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Home Stretch — Episode 4: The Utah v. Oregon Football Recap

Sports Writer Kyle Garrison speaks with Sports Podcast Producer Stevie Shaughnessey about the recent Oregon versus Utah football game, and what caused Utah’s first at-home loss.
Mary Allen
(Design by Mary Allen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Stevie Shaughnessey: Hi and welcome back to Home Stretch, The Daily Utah Chronicle’s sports podcast. My name is Stevie and I’ll be your host. Today we are welcoming back Kyle Garrison on the show to talk about Utah’s recent loss against the Oregon Ducks this last Saturday. Hi, Kyle, and welcome back to the podcast.

Kyle Garrison: Hi Stevie. Thanks for having me. 

Stevie Shaughnessey: So Kyle, what were your initial thoughts on watching the game? 

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, so first thing I really saw when rewatching the film was just the offensive line for Oregon and for us. Obviously, games are won in the trenches, and it just looked like our O-line was just getting blown off the ball play after play. We were, our O-line couldn’t make the holes that we’ve been making the past couple weeks, especially against USC and our run game just was pretty stagnant throughout the entire day, and then obviously, on the other side of the ball, our four-man pressure was just doing nothing for Bo Nix. We didn’t have a single sack the entire game. You could just see Oregon’s O-line was prepared to just bully us every single play. They were not going to let us get to the quarterback. They were not going to let us get any pressure and they just wanted to, you know, beat the crap out of us essentially, and that’s what they were able to do. Our D-line has been solid all year too. It’s not like we have a bad defensive line by any means, I just think that Oregon’s game plan for, you know, getting in the trenches, and just getting down and dirty was better than ours, and obviously that showed with the final score. Another thing, Bryson [Barnes], obviously, you know, he didn’t have his best game of the year. He looked a little flustered under, under pressure in my opinion, and I just, I think that Dan Lanning came in with a great game plan to throw us off, throw Bryson off, make our offense just stagnant and complacent, and they did a really good job of that so hats off to them. They absolutely dominated and, you know, I think they’re one of the best teams in the country, so I don’t, I take it with a grain of salt, you know, that we lost, but obviously, I would have liked it to be a little bit of a closer game with as good a team as they are.

Stevie Shaughnessey: So, on the Oregon side, where did the Oregon Ducks dominate over Utah, and what were some key turning points in the game?

Kyle Garrison: So yeah, the first thing I said was that, just in the trenches, we got dominated all game. Their O-line is really, really good, and they always have a great O-line and I know, I’m sure Kyle Whittingham, I’m sure that in the locker room before the game, and all week he was preaching how good their O-line is and how physical they are, and how, you know, we’re gonna have to match their physicality. And obviously, that just didn’t happen, and another thing; their play calling was, in execution, was perfect. They knew exactly what our defense wanted to do and they exposed the holes in the defense throughout the entire day. They ran a lot of hurry-up offense that just threw our DBs off a little bit, and yeah, so I just think their play calling and execution overall was just much better than ours, and I liked how they came out with a purpose right away. They were going to run that hurry-up offense and even if it didn’t work, they were going to continue to go to it, throw a lot of bubble screens, make our DBs tackle in space, and throw a lot of passes over the middle, and right away that’s where I saw a lot of holes in our defense was just, they were running a lot of zone and they were just picking those zones apart with little crossing routes and little slants. They’re Oregon. They always have speedy guys and they just utilize their speed and space and just made play after play. And then, I mean, I’m going to continue to stay ahead because just that was my biggest takeaway from the game was how much more physical they were than us. I could just tell in some, like, key plays that they just were out-physicalling us. There was a long run by Bucky Irving early on in the game where he broke like five or six tackles. I don’t even think that we had five or six tackles broken off against us, like, all week last week against USC, and Bucky Irving just put his head down. He’s a littler guy, smaller center of gravity, and just put our guys in the dirt. He had one goal and that’s to get to the end zone. He was like a yard short. But man, that was just an impressive run, and I think that was a key turning point. They just punched us in the mouth and we didn’t really have any response.

Stevie Shaughnessey: I know I was at the game and you were at the game. In the MUSS, it felt cold, it was a lot quieter than usual. Obviously, this game had, like, a lot of a different feel than against USC. Why do you think that is?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, so in my opinion, I just think, you know, years past when we have big games, early on in the games, we usually keep it close. And early on, you could just see how much bigger and stronger they looked out there and I think the entire MUSS also had that feeling, especially when [Oregon] went up early by a couple of scores. It just looked like, you know, teams in the past for Utah were explosive enough where a 21-3 or 21-6 deficit wasn’t too much to overcome. But, we just don’t have the, we just didn’t have those big playmakers on Saturday that we’ve seen from the past like the Sione Vaki’s, the Ja’Quinden Jackson‘s, Devaughn Vele‘s, Money Parks,’ those guys, you know, they did, they got the normal amount of touches but they just weren’t making as explosive plays as we’re used to having them make, and I think, obviously, everyone in the MUSS felt that. It just felt more dead than usual. Especially during game day, it was kind of sad to see just how deflated we looked. All the students really, but obviously, you know, the MUSS showed out like usual, and we just didn’t, you know, didn’t execute down the stretch, but I don’t think that’s gonna stop happening. I think that we’re going to continue to have great student sections and I know that our team is going to feed off of that and I know they want to put a good showing on the field. So, I think that was a one-time thing for us. I don’t think that’s going to happen again, at least I hope.

Stevie Shaughnessey: And last week, I know we talked about Bryson Barnes, his progression. But this week, a lot of fans are saying that he just wasn’t able to find receivers. Personally, what do you think his strengths and weaknesses were against Oregon?

Kyle Garrison: Yeah. So, I don’t think he necessarily played a terrible game. He had those two interceptions, which, you know, you can’t have those, especially against a team like Oregon who always capitalize on mistakes no matter what, and I just think that his strengths were definitely on display early. He had a couple times when he went through his whole progressions, made good throws, got some guys on some third downs, got some guys open that, you know, we have, we’ve seen him make those throws throughout the entire year, and he was able to make those throws but once Oregon kind of took away his, you know, the five-yard outs and the six-yard slants and you know, the easy post routes, he just, his arm wasn’t built on Saturday to make those big down-the-field throws. I know he can make those throws, we’ve obviously seen him do it, so I’m not saying you can’t do it, but just on Saturday, it didn’t look like he was very comfortable ever really in the pocket. Our O-line didn’t do him a lot of favors, but I mean, credit Dan Lanning and Oregon’s defense. They were stunting every single play, they were throwing stuff at our O-line that they’ve never seen before, and yeah, their defensive sets were just unbelievable. Hats off to them. I really think that they probably played their best game of the year, if not the best game that any team [has] played all year in all of college football, and I just think that that was a big contributing factor to just how good they looked and how bad we looked. I don’t think we’re necessarily a very bad team, but they played really, really well.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Going forward. What do you think [Kyle Whittingham’s] going to do? How do you think that’s going to affect the rest of the season? 

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, so I think obviously, Vaki’s is playing on defense and I know they’re going to try and limit his snap count, especially in big games like this where we really do need him on defense, because he is a stud at that safety position. He’s a big dude, he can tackle. He can play man coverage. He’s good in the zone. So I just, I think that having him is always a plus on offense, but when he’s having days like he did, you know, his stat line wasn’t great, he only had like, it was like five carries for 11 yards I believe it was, and you know, it just wasn’t his day. So obviously, we’re looking for him to make up for it on the defensive end, and I don’t think he played a bad game on defense at all, I actually think he played pretty well. I think it was one of the few guys that had a really good game on defense and was in the right spots at the right time. But, as for how this will affect the rest of the season, I think that we’re gonna see more of Vaki on offense, I don’t think it’s going to be quite as much as we did against USC, because teams are kind of queuing in on that. But, I think that there’s a, there’s a chance for us to make the Pac-12 championship again and I think that, you know, Kyle Whittingham’s is going to talk to his guys in the locker room, make sure that they’re ready to go, make sure that they’re not getting too down on themselves because we saw it last year, we had two losses early and then we got that third one, or we got that second loss, in Pac-12 play which was the third overall in the year, and everyone kind of, you know, everyone could have held, held their head down, but they, you know, they got together as a team and made sure that people were still locked in and ready to go just in case we did get a chance to make that Pac-12 championship and that’s exactly what happened. So, I’m just looking for Whittingham and his staff to really, you know, come together with these guys and become a family this week, and so throughout the rest of the year, we can try and try and win out again and potentially make the Pac-12 championship again.

Stevie Shaughnessey: Great. Well, thank you so much for your insight again, Kyle, do you have any final thoughts on the rest of the game? 

Kyle Garrison: Yeah, I mean, I know a lot of fans are pretty, pretty bummed about this. I mean, obviously, I know I am. I know you are. Nobody wants a loss, especially a loss that, you know, you can just see that you got kicked in the mouth. But obviously, it’s not ideal, but the season isn’t over, we still got a lot to play for. We could still be playing for a 10-2 record, which is great. That was better than our record last year at the end of the regular season. So we’re gonna see what this team is made of. We’re really gonna see how good the captains are, how good that senior leadership is. We’re gonna really see a lot from this team going through adversity. We saw it against Oregon State, we had adversity and we bounced back great. So I’m looking for that those same things. I think that we’re really going to bounce back in these next couple of weeks. We got a big game coming up this week and I think that I think we can get it done. Arizona is a tough team, Arizona looked really good against Oregon State this week, but I think this is a really good opportunity for us to kind of tell everybody, you know, settle down. We’re not, we’re not a bad team. We’re still good. We just had a bad week last week, and I think that’s what we’re gonna do.

Stevie Shaughnessey:  Great. Thank you, Kyle, for your thoughts, and thank you for listening to Home Stretch, The Daily Utah Chronicle’s sports podcast. Make sure you stay tuned for new episodes coming every other Tuesday.


Transcribed by

Producer and Host: Stevie Shaughnessey —  [email protected]   | @steviechrony

Guest: Kyle Garrison — [email protected] | @kgarry21

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About the Contributors
Stevie Shaughnessey, Home Stretch Producer, Host
Stevie is a junior transfer student at the U who is majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism, and minoring in documentary studies. In her free time, Stevie likes to take part in many different activities, such as dirt bike riding, snowboarding and photography.
Mary Allen, Design Director
(she/her) Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Mary is thrilled to be here at the University of Utah studying graphic design. She feels very lucky to get to rub shoulders with the talented people that make up the team here at the Chronicle and is learning a lot from them every day. Other than making things look cute, Mary’s passions include music, pickleball, Diet Coke, wildlife protection, and the Boston Red Sox.

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