Mixed Emotions, But Moving on to Colorado

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Mixed Emotions, But Moving on to Colorado

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When the Utah football team dropped its second game of the season to the Washington Huskies in late October, the players were angry. They were frustrated and they seemed more focus than ever to get back on the right track according to head coach Kyle Whittingham.

Following the Utes’ most recent loss to the Oregon Ducks, however, the players appeared to be frustrated, disappointed and disheartened. Whittingham shoulders the blame for the loss and he understands how upset his players are after falling just short of potentially playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game in Santa Clara, Calif.

“[It was a] real tough one,” Whittingham said. “All we needed to do was get one stop along the way, and find a way to come away with a victory, and we couldn’t get it done.”

Whittingham credits his defense for holding down the fort for nearly three entire quarters, but he needs them to do so for the entire game because Oregon went on to score four touchdowns on its final four possessions.

The Utes did go toe-to-toe with the Ducks during that stretch, but the team realizes it should have capitalized on some more opportunities earlier in the game.

“Moved the ball well, but couldn’t find the endzone nearly enough,” Whittingham said. “We had a few chances to go up 21-3, and if we had done that, that might have been the dagger. But we just didn’t get it done.”

Personal achievements

Whittingham applauds Joe Williams for breaking 1,000 yards rushing for the season in spite of missing a good chunk of the season because of his brief retirement.

“It was a disappointing game, but we had some great individual achievements,” Whittingham said. “Joe Williams rushed for another 150 yards, puts him over 1,000 for the year, and that’s tremendous considering what he went through.”

Whittingham was also proud of the way his quarterback executed on the field. Troy Williams threw for 235 yards and he had a 66.7 percent completion rate.

Focus is on Colorado

With one game left in the regular season, the Utes are focusing on winning on the road against the Colorado Buffs, and they have the potential to play spoiler this weekend.

If Colorado beats Utah, the Buffs are currently favored to win by 11 points, they will advance to the Pac-12 Championship Game. If Utah goes into Boulder and it pulls out a win, however, then USC will win the Pac-12 South and the Trojans advance to the championship game for the second consecutive year.

But the Utes are not focused on disrupting one of Colorado’s best years in the Pac-12. They are focusing on finishing the season with 10 wins, one being a win against Colorado and the second being a win in whichever bowl game they are placed in.

Colorado just took down one of the powerhouses in the North when it beat Washington State 38-24 this past weekend, and Whittingham would say they have one of the most well-rounded squads in the Pac-12.

“[The Buffs] remind me of Washington,” Whittingham said. “They are a complete team, and they have their own 1,000 yard [running] back. Their two quarterbacks are exceptionally good, three really good receivers, solid offensive line, defense is playing as good as any defense in the league.”

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@kbrenneisen