Utes focus on regrouping for Louisville
Even as they grappled with a losing feeling for the first time in 16 games following Saturday's 31-24 defeat at Oregon, Utah's football players tried to focus ahead to Louisville.
They know the worst thing they could do now is let one loss turn into two.
"There is a lot of football ahead of us," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We have nine games left and our goal is to always win the conference championship first and foremost. This has done nothing to derail that, but we certainly have a lot of things to work on and a lot of areas to improve."
Offensive lineman Zane Beadles said he and the rest of the leaders on Utah's team have a responsibility to make sure no one dwells on the loss at Oregon. There is too much work ahead to make sure it doesn't happen again for the Utes, who fell out of the polls for the first time since Sept. 2, 2008 with the loss.
Getting the most attention will be the lack of offense the Utes (2-1) had against Oregon's defense, which ranked just 94th nationally.
"I don't know what we've got to do, but we obviously have to make some plays to get this going," Beadles said.
Louisville (1-1), Saturday's opponent, is dealing with its own disappointments after falling at Kentucky 31-27 Saturday.
The Cardinals were driving for a potentially game-winning score when quarterback Justin Burke's pass was tipped and intercepted.
That mistake came after Kentucky's final score was set up by a fumbled kickoff return.
The last time the Utes played Louisville was in 2007 when the Utes stunned the Cardinals 44-35 at home.
That victory helped the Utes salvage the season after they'd lost three of their first five games.
Now a win over Louisville could be used to get some momentum going into the bye week and then conference play. The last thing the Utes' want to do is let Saturday's loss affect their outlook going forward, linebacker Stevenson Sylvester said.
"We can still reach our ultimate goal, the conference championship," Sylvester said. "We have to get our heads up because we have another opponent who doesn't care we lost or how we feel next week and we have to get ready to play."
While the offense showed plenty of need for improvement in Saturday's loss, particularly in the first half when the Utes failed to get a first down on seven straight possessions, Utah has work to do in all areas, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
"We have to keep drilling it, keep working it, Terrance [Cain] has got to keep getting better, the play calling has to keep getting better, everything has to keep getting better. It's not any one thing, we have a lot of stuff we need to continue to improve on."
The loss to Oregon was painful, but the best way the Utes can treat it now is as a learning experience to make something good come out of something bad, safety Robert Johnson said.
"Losing hurts, it's a new feeling for me," he said. "But it's part of the game. We have to bounce back. We can't let it carry into next week."
Utah's offense in third and 4th down conversions through the first three games
Third Down Conversions
0-of-12 Utah State 4-of-11
3-of-12 San Jose State 8-of-15
3-of-14 Oregon 5-of-18
Fourth Down Conversions
0-of-1 Utah State 1-of-2
0-of-0San Jose State 1-of-2