Athlon Sports recently granted anonymity to Pac-12 coaches in order to get an "accurate assessment of teams heading into 2014."
It’s a lot of fun, as these things tend to be. Click here to read it for yourself.
Of the Utah comments, three in particular were somewhat critical of the Utes, and we asked head coach Kyle Whittingham what he thought of them.
1. Anonymous coach » "Their corners were pretty big, and they did a lot of zone blitzing. When they have lock-down corners, they are really good. The last few years they haven’t had the same caliber of cornerback. Have had to play more zone pressures."
Whittingham » "Accurate statement. I think our corner play has been a strong suit for us for a lot of years. Maybe not quite as good man-to-man the last couple years as we have been, but we think this year we may be able to get back to that. We hope so."
2. Anonymous coach » "Wilson is athletic and throws better than average, but they didn’t use him to their advantage as a dual-threat quarterback – they tried to make him a play-action guy and he’s just okay at that."
Whittingham » "Probably accurate. Were going to do more with him this year, in exactly what you just said there, and he’s, Travis is right now playing his best football. This is his third year in the program, and there’s no doubt that right now at this point in time that he’s better than he ever has been."
3. Anonymous coach (paraphrased by this reporter with the hopefully accurate translation of "outside guys" to "outside pass rushers") » "Their inside guys were really powerful. Maybe their outside guys aren’t as good of pass rushers as you need with speed sideline to sideline, but they are stout against the run against powerful teams."
Whittingham » "Hmm. Probably not, since we led the nation in sacks throughout the regular season. We’re probably not fast enough on the edge. That’s something we’ll have to work on. We’ll see how that goes."
Flag frequency » A reporter who — unlike this one — arrived early enough Saturday to catch the end of Saturday’s abbreviated second session, asked Whittingham about a pass interference call on senior cornerback Davion Orphey.
Is Utah trying to acclimate to what will be a stricter interpretation of pass interference?
"It’s a point of emphasis," Whittingham said. "We’ve had the refs out here each day so we can get used to the style of what they’re going to deem pass interference, and it is a lot tighter than it was in years past, if they call it this way in the season. We’ll see. But we’re trying to make the adjustments, as I’m sure everyone in the country is.
Highlight » Considering we arrived right on time for the last 20 minutes and practice ended, oh, 19 minutes early, take it with a huge grain of salt that the best play we witnessed was a short completion from Travis Wilson to freshman receiver Kenric Young for a touchdown in red-zone work. We’ll get there earlier next time.
Standout » Whittingham said senior Dres Anderson and junior walk-on Tim Patrick were impressive in the receiving corps, and freshman safety Marcus Williams "had a couple nice plays."
Position spotlight » Again: Only Whittingham was available for comment and we witnessed very little, so apologies for something of a broken record here, but Whittingham said Wilson is still No. 1 quarterback. "He’s got the edge right now, but it’s a tight battle and it’ll continue for who knows how long." Kendal Thompson may be made "live" either for Tuesday’s scrimmage or Saturday’s.
Quote of the day (or, at least, the evening) » Whittingham: "The offensive execution continues to, day by day, raise just a little bit each day. So that’s a good thing, a real good thing."
— Matthew Piper
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