Quotes from Kyle Whittingham's Weekly Press Conference
We had a good win at Colorado Sate. I thought the team showed a great deal of toughness, competitive spirit and poise, handling adversity in that situation. They found a way to get back in the game. I give credit to our players. They continued to fight. The coaching staff also did a nice job not panicking and staying on course and finding a way to win. A road win is a great way to start out conference season.
Defensively, Robert Johnson's three interceptions were the primary difference in the game. He is a tremendous athlete, and when you only have five or six possessions in the second half and three end in interceptions, that is a big advantage for us. The kicking game was sub-par. It was our poorest performance overall. But we had a positive outcome. It was homecoming for CSU, so there was a crowd there that we had to overcome, as well as the weather, and we did a good job handling things.
We will not have Lei Talamaivao this week (broken leg), but we are looking to have him back for Air Force. Walter Watts (knee) is also out for this week and we also hope to have him for Air Force. We feel Shaky [Smithson] is going to be able to play. Shak [Sausan Shakerin] will play this week.
It's another road game in conference. They've had some tough losses as of late. They have good skill people on offense and are averaging nearly 30 points per game. We all know what happened two years ago, when we came away with a devastating loss. We have to have our minds right and we have to be ready to go.
On the running game:
The Colorado State game was exactly the type of game we needed from Eddie Wide. He had 18 carries and over five yards per carry again. Not having Shaky available hurt us in the run game. The one carry he had when he was healthy, he gained 20 yards. We had to scramble and revise some of our thinking when he went down. We anticipate his return in a day or two.
Shak is available now, and we will be in a little better shape as far as depth. Eddie will still be our leading ball carrier, and between Shak and Shaky we hope to find another 18-20 carries. Terrance is also running well - he is the sixth-leading rusher in our conference and he has done a nice job adding to the run game.
On the 2007 UNLV game:
Since that game, we have gone 25-2. That was a defining moment for us. It was really a wakeup call for a lot of the guys on the team - their mindset has to be right each and every week. It was obvious when the game started that we were flat, and it was an eye-opener for a lot of guys. A lot of our current team was at or in that game.
On the defense and blitzing:
If we're going to be the type of defense that we want to be, we need to get back to our base defense and not hang our hat so much on our packages. The last few ball games we have scaled back [to our base defense] to where we have been most years. We used more blitzing packages against Oregon.
On Robert Johnson:
He has a lot of positive qualities. His athleticism. He has excellent speed and agility. He also has great instincts. He has a great feel for reading the quarterback's eyes. He plays faster than his 40 times because he gets a great break on the ball. And his preparation. He is watching film and doing everything he should be doing during the week.
On returning to the polls:
It is a positive for us to be in the top 25. It gives you a little more time on television, but there is still a lot of football to play yet. If we take care of business, that will take care of itself. It is nice to be ranked, but the one thing on our minds is finding a way to beat UNLV.
> No. 24 Utah (4-1, 1-0 MWC) plays UNLV (2-4, 0-2 MWC) on October 17 in Las Vegas. Kickoff is 8:00 p.m. (MT) in Sam Boyd Stadium. The game will be televised live on the Mtn. Radio is KALL 700 AM (kall700sports.com).
> Utah has returned to the Associated Press top 25 rankings at No. 24. The 4-1 Utes dropped out of the rankings on Sept. 20 after a 31-24 loss to Oregon. The Ducks are currently No. 13 in the A.P poll and No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches poll.
> Utah needs one victory to reach 600 wins all-time. In 116 years of football, Utah's record is 599-418-31.
> Utah is 12-2 against UNLV. The most recent loss in 2007 served as a springboard for the Utes, who would bounce back to win seven straight games and 25 of their next 27 games.
> Utah's 27-0 loss to UNLV in 2007 was the first time a Utah team had been shut out in 14 years.
> UNLV head coach Mike Sanford was Utah's offensive coordinator from 2003-04, during which time current Ute head coach Kyle Whittingham was the team's defensive coordinator. Whittingham has a 3-1 advantage over his former colleague.
> Utah has averaged 40 points a game in its 14-game history with the Rebels.
> Utah is on the road for the fourth time in five games. Following this Saturday's contest at UNLV, the Utes will play three straight home games and will leave the state just one more time during the regular season (TCU on Nov. 14).
> With last Saturday's win, Whittingham improved to 5-0 coming off bye weeks, beating Wyoming (2005, 2007), Colorado State (2006, 2008) and New Mexico (2008).
> Robert Johnson became Utah's first Mountain West Conference Player of the Week this season after spearheading a second-half comeback win over Colorado State. Johnson had interceptions on three consecutive series--two which led to Utah touchdowns and the other that allowed the Utes to run out the game clock. The senior free safety also had five tackles and a pass breakup in Utah's 24-17 win in Ft. Collins
> Utah has four Las Vegas natives on its roster, including starting linebacker Stevenson Sylvester (Valley HS) and starting running back Eddie Wide (Cimarron Memorial HS). Others are DeVonte Christopher (Canyon Springs HS) and freshman Jeremiah Tofaeono (Cheyenne HS). All four were first-team all-state selections while in high school and Christopher and Wide were both Nevada Gatorade Players of the Year: Wide in 2006 and Christopher in 2007 (as a quarterback).