Utes look to move past devastating loss to Washington State

— Brent Uberty

Two days after Utah collapsed against Washington State, questions about what went wrong were still being asked. At his Monday press conference, Whittingham’s message was clear — his team needed to move on.
As Utah fans invaded Twitter following the loss with opinions on QB Travis Wilson, WR Dres Anderson, offensive coordinator Dave Christensen and head coach Kyle Whittingham, the Utes themselves were determined to move forward.
“There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Whittingham said. “There’s nothing to do but move forward — you can’t press rewind. There’s no rewind button in life. You got to forget about it, but you got to learn from it. You have to learn from your mistakes, but you can’t sit there and sulk and dwell on it. We have to move forward, and we will.”
Utah players would like nothing more than to forget about the loss to the Cougars in a game where they had full control. That process started Monday morning.
Players and coaches convened for a morning film session Monday with a mindset of getting ready for their next opponent. On Monday afternoon, the Utes were back on the practice field in full preparation for UCLA.
As Whittingham said, the Utes must learn from their mistakes, and the most dubious errors against Washington State were on the offensive end.
The offense, outside of running back Devontae Booker, was a mess against the Cougars, but it was Anderson and a key late drop that drew the most scrutiny from fans following the game. On Monday, Wilson — who also received heavy criticism from Utah faithful — came to his receiver’s defense.
“It was my fault on some of them,” Wilson said. “I missed some opportunities I could have made. Definitely wish I could go back and fix that, but it’s something we got to correct this week.”
In close losses, small mistakes become magnified, but according to Wilson, the blame for the loss is shared by all the offense.
“Obviously it goes both ways,” Wilson said. “I missed some opportunities to him, and he had that drop, so it goes both ways, but I’m never going to blame somebody for dropping the ball or get mad at them for dropping a ball. It’s something we got to execute at practice and make sure we get a lot of reps in practice.”
For an offense that has produced just two touchdowns in its past two games, those reps have never been so important. Problems that once seemed troubles of the past, such as Anderson’s slippery fingers, have resurfaced. With Utah heading into the heart of their schedule — five of their next six opponents are currently ranked in the USA Today coach’s poll — the Utes won’t have long to regain their offensive swagger.
Whittingham reiterated Monday that the Utes had opportunities to win the game — they just needed to make one more play. It’s Whittingham’s hope his team won’t allow themselves to linger on the missed chances against the Cougars and instead get prepared to make the plays when they visit the Rose Bowl on Saturday.
More play for Devontae
During his press conference Monday, Whittingham confirmed what became clear during Saturday’s contest: Devontae Booker is Utah’s lead back. Booker rushed 24 times for 178 yards and a touchdown against Washington State, vastly outperforming then co-starter Bubba Poole.
Booker impressed Whittingham enough to earn the clear distinction as the one and only starter in the backfield.
“Devontae Booker is our guy, and Bubba Poole is the backup,” Whittingham said.
Wilson or Thompson?
Whittingham has said time and time again there is a place for back-up quarterback in the offense, but after Wilson’s struggle against Washington State, Kendal Thompson may see more playing time.
“We’re taking a look at all possibilities, and Kendal, in hindsight, should have probably gotten a couple series Saturday,” Whittingham said.
Thompson did enter the game in an emergency situation when Wilson’s helmet came off and by rule had to come out of the game. Thompson didn’t complete a pass in his short time on the field, going 0 for 2.
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