Kyle Whittingham looks ahead to Thursday's game agaisnt TCU.
Oct. 15, 2007
It was good to get into the win column in the Mountain West Conference. It was a solid football game for us. We had good offensive production, and I think we controlled the football well. Brian Johnson played completed more than 75 percent of his passes, he managed the game and he moved the football.
Darrell Mack is turning into someone that we can count on, and our offensive line did a good job for him. We got 280-plus running yards and you can attribute that to the play of the offensive line.
We had a lot of offensive production.
Our defense was the story of the game. That was the best game they played all season. They held San Diego State to seven points and just over 200 yards of offense and to 12 first downs - all were season lows for San Diego State. Our defense only missed four tackles and that has been a barometer of how well we play.
Louie Sakoda was Special Teams Player of the Week for the second straight week. He has been playing very well for us and he is very consistent.
We have a short week before we play at TCU on the road, and on national TV. In watching TCU, it's easy to see why they were picked as one of the favorites in the Mountain West Conference. They are very talented and have a lot weapons. They got off to a slow start but they are starting to find their offense, and that was evident in their win over Stanford last week. A tough opponent like TCU is always a challenge that we look forward to.
On the similarities between Utah's and TCU's football programs this year
There are some similarities between our two programs. Both of them got off to a slow start, for different reasons, but the two teams have started to gain their momentum and consistency for the season.
On the defensive play over the last two weeks
Our pass coverage was suspect against Louisville. Our corners, Brice McCain and Sean Smith, played a lot better against San Diego State. We held Kevin O'Connell to under a 50 percent completion percentage and under 200 yards passing. And, when do that against a team that's committed to the passing game, that's good defense.
All of that together means we had a good defensive outing.
On the improving run defense
We got Gable Long back and he's our big run-stopper on the line. We moved Koa Misi to the outside, and the whole team is just tackling better.
On when Brian Johnson will return to his 2005 form
We'll see how healthy Brian Johnson gets as the season progresses. Corbin Louks brings a lot of the same things that Eric Weddle brought to the team at quarterback. Corbin brings another element to the game, and it's just one more thing that opposing defenses have to prepare for. We have a different offensive package that we run when he's in the game.
I expect to see him the rest of the way. There's no guarantee that we'll see Corbin every week because the situation dictates his play. But, I like the package we bring to the game with him.
As for Brian, his health will dictate when he's ready to run more.
On the play of Nai Fotu last week
We knew Nai Fotu was good when we recruited him in high school. We brought him in here with the plan to use him on special teams this year. Linebacker is one of the tougher positions to play, in terms of schemes and techniques, here at Utah. So, last week, we gave Nai a small portion of the defense to handle, and that's what he's responsible for when he's in the game. We don't expect him to have grasped the entire scope of the position yet.
On playing Thursday night games
It's a double-edged sword. Our kids are going to miss two days of class. Then, we return at 4 a.m., on Friday and we expect them to get up and go to class that very morning. If I had my druthers, I would like to see less play on Thursday night. But, it's also good exposure for the program and a good recruiting tool.
So, from an academic standpoint, I'd like to see less Thursday games. From an exposure and recruiting point of view, it's a positive.
On the importance of winning at TCU
History tells you that if you have three losses, it's tough to win a league championship. I'm trying to think to our days in the Western Athletic Conference and I can't remember a three-loss team winning that championship in that league either. So, three losses puts you in a situation where it will be difficult to win the league title.
But, every week's a big game for us. All of our games are conference games from here on out. I know it's an old coach's cliché, but it's applicable to us and this team: We have to take it one game at a time and then we'll go from there.
On Utah's history against TCU
We had a nice football game against TCU last year. TCU is always picked to finish at the top of the Mountain West Conference, year-in and year-out, so it's always an exciting challenge to play them. The last two times we've played them, it's been a tight, competitive ball game. They have been memorable ball games.
On why TCU got off to a slow start
TCU played a tough schedule early in the season. They had to play Texas, and honestly, not many teams match up against Texas very well. Plus, they have a redshirt freshman in Andy Dalton at quarterback. So, he's now starting to get comfortable in their offense.
Then, you have the whole Tommy Blake issue - is he playing or is he out this week. I think they finally got that settled and he's going to get a redshirt for this season.
On playing in the state of Texas
We plan to increase the number of Texas players on our roster each year. We have about 12 on it right now and we want to top out at about 25 players from there. But, playing at TCU is a great recruiting tool. We tell every recruit that we'll make a trip to their home state every other year.