Defense looking to correct errors

By By Liz Frome , Staff Writer

By Liz Frome , Staff Writer

It’s back to the basics for Utah’s defensive team.

After showing some weaknesses in weeks one, two and three, the Utes’ defense is looking to correct common errors that will help minimize big plays by a mean Louisville offense this Saturday.

Assignment errors and containing opponents’ rushing games have proved to be recurring issues for the Utes.

“We don’t want to be the team that keeps making the same mistakes,” said senior linebacker Stevenson Sylvester. “We’ve been known to repeat these past couple weeks, and we just gotta fix those mistakes. That’s our must.”

Coming off their first loss since 2007, the Utes are looking to get back on their normal track and claim a win before heading into their conference schedule in two weeks. In order to get to 3-1, defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake said the team has to get back to the fundamentals of the game and focus on individual assignments.

“We’re going to need to play our most technique and assignment-sound game in order for us to accomplish the goals that we want,” Sitake said. “That’s what we’re focusing on most is just the basics. The defense is built on the guys doing their own job and trusting their teammates. You gotta do your job and trust that the other 10 guys on the field are doing their job also.”

Utah has struggled defending rushing plays and will be faced with another tough assignment this week in the Cardinals’ sophomore running back Victor Anderson, who is averaging more than six yards per carry two games into Louisville’s schedule. Anderson was named Big East Rookie of the Year in 2008 and has already made a name for himself as a responsive running back with explosive power, capable of shaking defenders and breaking tackles.

“They just run right at you, and they have running backs that will take advantage of any breakdown that we have,” said assistant head coach and defensive line coach John Pease. “They are just big and huge, and they don’t mess around.”

Head coach Kyle Whittingham said the Utes will have to be prepared for individual assignments to handle Louisville’s run game, similar to their focus preparing for Oregon last Saturday.

Breakdowns in individual assignments added up to a Ute road loss against the Ducks and a particularly rough first half against Utah State in week one. Sitake said he is relying on his older players to lead the team in preventing errors and said he needs the younger guys on the team to step up and really settle into their game.

“(The young guys) aren’t young anymore,” Sitake said. “They’ve got three games under their belt, and inexperience is no longer an excuse. They’ve got to step up, and they know the demands that we have on them. There’s no such thing as a rookie anymore once you’ve played three games.”

“It’s little discipline problems, that’s what’s going wrong,” Sylvester said. “It’s mental mistakes. It’s easy to fix, we just gotta do it.”

The Utes will be playing their first game at home since week one on Saturday at 5:30. Pease and Sitake said the defense has been working to correct mistakes and believe they are prepared for Saturday’s game. Both coaches said eliminating errors to come out with a win depends on each athlete pulling his own weight.

“All eleven guys have to focus together and want the game,” Sitake said.

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