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Utah football: Utes have to improve on third down

Published September 25, 2013 6:56 pm

College football • Utah is 19 of 54 on 3rd-down conversions.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham liked almost everything about Utah's win over the BYU Cougars, except for the third-down conversions.

The Utes converted just 1 of 14 attempts and are just 19 of 54 on the season. Opponents are 26 for 71.

"We can't have that continuing," Whittingham said. "Really, third downs on both sides of the ball have been average at best all season long, and we need to improve our productivity both getting out of drives defensively and sustaining drives offensively."

The Utes failed to complete any of their six third downs in the second half against the Cougars, forcing the Utes to punt on six of their seven possessions.

Utah quarterback Travis Wilson said the Utes needed to play the third downs with more intensity than they did.

"We had some opportunities," he said. "We have to take into account how big those third downs are and keep extending the plays."

Money man

News flash: Whittingham likes kickers again. After two seasons of inconsistent kicking, Whittingham continues to be enthused by the efforts of Andy Phillips, who is 7 of 7 on field-goal attempts and 21 of 21 on PATs.

Phillips had field goals of 36 and 32 yards against BYU, prompting Whittingham to call him "automatic."

"It's remarkable what he has done so far," Whittingham said. "He has been a heck of a weapon for us."

Not a hot sell

Even though the Bruins are the No. 13 team in the country and the Utes play just two of their next four games at home, the Oct. 3 matchup with UCLA isn't a sellout yet.

Bleacher seats and standing-room tickets are available.

The game is Utah's sixth annual blackout game, in which the team will wear black uniforms and fans are encouraged to wear black attire. The Utes are 4-1 in their blackout games.

Getting it done

Receiver Dres Anderson leads the Utes in receptions (18), receiving yards (404), yards per game (101) and touchdowns (3).

He had a career-high 141 yards against BYU, his third straight game with at least 100 yards. Whittingham said he'd been bragging about Anderson for several seasons and is excited to see him living up to expectations.

"He is our go-to guy on the outside," Whittingham said. "Hopefully he'll continue to develop for us."

No Blechen decision

Whittingham said he has yet to decide whether to redshirt linebacker Brian Blechen, who still is recovering from knee surgery. Whittingham is waiting to see when the medical staff allows Blechen to start practicing again. —

UCLA at Utah

O Oct. 3, 8 p.m.

TV • Fox Sports 1