SALT LAKE CITY — Penalties have been an issue on the offensive side of the ball in Utah’s first two games of the season. And while Utah is committed to correcting the problems, wide receiver coach Guy Holliday is frustrated in the application of the rules.
“I liked their aggression,” Holliday said of his receivers, but added: “I need to understand the rules sometimes a little better on this.”
Holliday pointed to the offensive pass interference call against Siaosi Wilson early in the BYU game as a confusing penalty to him. Wilson was called for disrupting the direction of the opposing defensive back, despite running forward with his route. The opposing corner and safety stayed on Wilson, leaving receiver Darren Carrington wide open for a touchdown catch until the refs called it back.
“Let's just say that for that particular play I thought it was run well,” Holliday said. “But you know the official made the right call because it's his call to make. So that's the bottom line, so we'll figure out something else to do with blocking for the receivers.”
The offensive PI negated a touchdown, but the majority of penalties on the offensive side of the ball have involved receivers holding defenders — a situation that Holliday said is an easy fix as they work to have better hand placement. Regardless, Holliday said he's been pleased with the aggressiveness of his receivers.
“We're not going to take away the aggression,” he said. “We want teams to know when they come play us that we're going to be a physical football team. That's who I am and who I want my players to be. So we just got to fix our techniques.”
Chase Hansen’s status questionable
Following Utah’s rivalry matchup against BYU, junior safety Chase Hansen's status is questionable for the upcoming game against San Jose State. Hansen missed the last part of Saturday’s game despite a late-game push from BYU to take the lead with 2 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Junior Marquise Blair played in his absence.
On Tuesday, Hansen was not present in the final 20 minutes of the media observation portion of practice; however, it was not immediately clear if an injury was the reason for his absence. Asked if Hansen would be available for Saturday’s game, head coach Kyle Whittingham declined to comment.
Hansen was available at Monday’s practice, however, saying he was “banged up” but there was no indication as to whether that would keep him from the game against San Jose State. Hansen missed all of fall camp with an undisclosed injury, but joined the team approximately two weeks before Utah’s season opener against North Dakota.
Whittingham said he had no intention of holding banged up players out of Saturday’s game. He adamantly said, “Absolutely not.”
“We play to win every week,” Whittingham added. “So the answer is no, unequivocally no. We're going to go full speed. We play the same way every week.”
Family impacted by Florida hurricane
Over the weekend, Hurricane Irma ravaged the state of Florida, leaving several players on Utah’s team worried about their families back home. Sophomore running back Zack Moss said all of his family lives in Florida and that it was “kind of hard to be away when all that stuff is going on.”
But Moss said the football game Saturday acted as a “getaway” and allowed him to not focus on the potential impact of the hurricane. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley said the team had a prayer prior to Saturday’s matchup and that the Florida players had a “whatever happens” mentality and hoped for the best.
“It was just like we’ve got to cross our fingers and hope for the best,” Huntley said. “That’s all we could do.”
Fortunately, Moss’s family was safe and are slowly returning back to regular life. He said his family stayed at home and only had some downed trees. Huntley’s family, who is also located in Florida, was in Utah for the game and were not impacted by the hurricane. Huntley said his family had already planned on making the trip before the hurricane and were fortunate to get out of the state before travel out of the state became more difficult.