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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Utes need long and short term fixes

Say this for Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, he doesn't joke around does he? It is becoming more and more obvious that he was spot on when he said Utah's transition to the Pac-12 would take longer than a year.

Between the inexperience of offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, a lack of depth and some need for Pac-12 recruiting, the Utah Utes have a gap they must close before they can be a contender for a division title.

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I think many overestimated the Utes in the preseason and underestimated some of their opponents' abilities to improve with new coaching staffs or, in the case of Oregon State, find whatever magical team combination that has allowed the Beavers to succeed.

Do I think the Utah coaching staff will get it done? Yes. Whittingham may have made a mistake by promoting Johnson so fast due to his inexperience, but Whittingham has a solid reputation for getting things done and he'll make the Utes a contender, although it may take longer than many fans want.

So that is the future, what about this season? Here are some 'quick fixes' the Utes have to make if they are to end this losing streak and become bowl eligible.

1. Find some life. Whittingham said following the loss to Oregon State his team is working hard and doesn't quit. However, this squad doesn't seem to have the fire of teams in the past. It was notable in the closing minutes of the loss at UCLA, there was no 'rally up' attitude on the sidelines. Saturday's game was similar. The Utes didn't quit, but they just don't seem to have that fiery will to win either like past teams have had.

2. Do something to get pressure on the quarterbacks. Utah's defensive ends have got to find a way to get to quarterbacks. Star Lotulelei is doing a good job of getting a push in the center of the line, but the ends aren't finishing the business. The Utes have to improve here.

3. Re-examine the running back situation. As great as John White was last year, he is struggling this year. Granted he hasn't gotten nearly as many carries as he did last year and he deserves a few more chances to find his rhythm, but his dropped passes and fumbles aren't helping his case. If he starts slow against Cal, the Utes may need to switch things up and give Kelvin York a shot at carrying the run game.

4. Get some interceptions. Utah's defense was very impressive against the Beavers, but the Utes still need to get some interceptions. Turnovers are a huge momentum changer and the Utes definitely need a change of momentum now.

5. Adjust the playcalling faster. The Utes have got to do a better job of reacting in game situations. Not sure what it is going to take to get this done and help Johnson and it might be more than a quick fix, but it has to improve.

- Lya Wodraska

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