After starting its season on a four-game winning streak, the University of Utah football team (4-4 overall, 1-4 Pac-12) is now riding a four-game losing streak. The last time the Utes lost four games in a row was when they fell short in five straight in 2013.
“We seem to be missing that edge,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham. “We got to get that edge back.”
Whittingham said the primary issues Utah has been struggling with over the past few weeks is its inability to stop the run and run the ball with enough efficiency and production. He added that he wants to see his team be more committed to the run game, improve in the red zone and on third downs.
Getting back on track:
Safety Chase Hansen echoed Whittingham’s thoughts on the defense needing to do a better job at stopping the run, and he believes it is capable of doing so, but things have to be tightened up first.
“I feel like there are too many mistakes being made and little mistakes add up,” Hansen said.
Despite the Utes going 0-4 in October, Hansen said he has confidence in his coaches and his team moving forward. He believes the Utes need to “put things together” in order to earn victories.
Putting in the effort during practice while keeping its energy at a high level is what quarterback Tyler Huntley said will translate over to the field and help Utah get out of this slump.
“We are just going to keep going and we’re just going to keep pushing forward,” Huntley said. “We’re learning. We’re just adjusting right now.”
Shooting for bowl game:
Utah has four games left on its schedule and it needs to win two of them to become bowl eligible. Three of those games will take place at Rice-Eccles Stadium with UCLA, Washington State and Colorado coming to town. The final road game for the Utes will be in Seattle against Washington.
“We’re 4-4 with four to go and it can go one of two directions,” Whittingham said. “We can either continue to take our lumps and not play as well as we need to or we can … get back on track and get back to playing football the way we know we’re capable of playing.”
If the Utes become bowl eligible this season it would mark their fourth-straight bowl game appearance and would become their 12th bowl game played under Whittingham. But those numbers aren’t what they are focused on. More than anything, Whittingham wants his seniors to have the opportunity to play in one last bowl game before their college ride comes to an end.
“That’s our entire focus right now. We have shifted into making sure we try to get these seniors to a bowl game,” Whittingham said. “That’s the point of emphasis. The goal right now is to make sure these seniors get the opportunity to play in a bowl game this year because they’ve done so much for our program.”