Kyle Whittingham talks about preparing for Utah State at his weekly press conference.
Sept. 24, 2007
It was an inexplicable loss last week. I know what we did to lose but I can't tell you why. We've been pouring over the tape so that we can come to some conclusion as to why we execute at a high level one week and then perform so ineptly the next.
We turned the ball over too many times last week, and we had too many drive-killing penalties. We did not tackle on defense and our special teams was just so-so at best.
We couldn't find the end zone last week. I thought that we moved the ball well at times, but every time we did, we had a turnover or a penalty that just brought the ball back.
UNLV had a good game plan. Their running back, Summers, was a difference-maker in the game. He had 190 yards rushing, and many of those yards came after contact. That was the difference.
This week, we have Utah State on our homecoming. We're 1-3 and they're 0-4 so both teams are coming into this game needing a win.
I think our preparation last week was the same heading into the UCLA game. Our practices were excellent, our walk throughs were excellent, and all signs pointed to a good game for us on Saturday. But, obviously, we weren't prepared and that's the job of the coaching staff. That responsibility falls squarely on my shoulders. It's my job to get everyone ready to play, and that's what we're doing this week.
That sums it up. We need to win. We're 0-2 in the conference now, and that puts us in a bit of a hole. It's not the best situation, but we're not out of it yet. We need to move the football and get it done.
On finding the answers from the UNLV game
There are 119 Division I coaches that want to find ways to get their players to execute at a high level every week. I don't know why we play at a high level seven days ago and then seven days later, play so ineptly.
We had several fourth-and-one chances in the game that I opted to go for. We need to be able to get those and we just couldn't execute to get what we needed.
We called a roll pass. Brian Johnson was supposed to fake a handoff to Darrell Mack, roll out and pass it to a receiver in the endzone. We had a receiver open in the endzone, there wasn't anyone around him at all. But, Brian Johnson ran into Darrell Mack in the backfield, and that threw the whole play off.
On who's starting at quarterback against Utah State
Brian Johnson is going to be our QB, no question. It's not even a debate. If he's ready to go, then he's going to go.
The medical staff said he was ready to go against UNLV, but that one more week's rest would be ideal for him. When we were down 13 at halftime, the coaches made a decision to put him. We wanted to see if that would spark anything on offense.
But, this week, he's our guy.
On how effective Brian Johnson will be this week
He was at about 80 percent last Saturday. He didn't take any steps backwards by playing last week, so we expect him to come back at about 90 percent this week.
On playing from behind
We certainly make it harder than it should be. Our energy and passion goes up when everything seems to be going our way. But, when we're down, we don't seem to have that. We have to be tough and fight.
We were down 13-0 at halftime to UNLV. Is that insurmountable? No, not at all. But, we get the ball to start the half, we drive down to the goal line and we don't score.
On the run defense
Our run defense has been issue. We missed 17 tackles alone last week. That's three times more than what you'd like to see. A lot of that is attributed to Summers. He's big and he ran hard. He's an effective runner, but he hasn't been nearly that effective in the past.
It's not schematic because we had guys in position to make the play. We let him slip away too many times. Our guys are there, but they need to make the play.
On the running back and quarterback situation
Mack was effective for us last week. He rattled off several big runs, but a lot of them were called back because of a penalty. He runs with, what I like to call, a lot of violence or suddenness. Mack was a positive for us last week.
Actually, there were a few positives for us in last week's game. Lei Talamaivao had a good game for us, and Stevenson Sylvester had the best game of his career since he joined the program. Our pass defense was solid. We held them to 140 yards passing, which is a small amount in this day and age, and got two interceptions.
Louie Sakoda punted very well, averaging more than 50 yards per punt, although he did out-kick our coverage a couple of times.