Whittingham has respect for Arizona offense

Kyle Whittingham recently talked about Arizona and holds its offense in high regard. Read on to see what he thinks about Arizona's offense, how to contain it, and more.

Coming into the season, Utah was heading into the Pac-12 season with high hopes. The offense was put on John White's shoulders and the Utes were looking to be a power in the Pac-12 South.

The reality of that situation iss that Utah lost starting quarterback John Wynn and had injury troubles with White. The Utes lost more games than expected.

Now, with the season coming to a close, Utah sits with a 4-6 record (2-5 in the Pac-12) and is struggling to become bowl eligible. The Utes lost on the road to Washington 34-15 in its last game and up next is Arizona, who Utah needs to beat in order to keep its bowl hopes alive.

"It's really do or die - our backs are against the wall in every sense," Head Coach Kyle Whittingham said about the game against Arizona. "There is no margin for error. We have to play our best football this week."

The Utah coach knows that Arizona has a potent offense and respects the firepower that the Wildcats have shown off in previous weeks.

"Arizona has a high-powered offense," Whittingham said. "Number one quarterback in the conference as far as yards per game, number one rusher in the conference, they are averaging over 500 yards per game and nearly 40 points. I think their scheme is exceptional. We've definitely got our hands full.

"We're going to have the keep the football away from them with our offense. That is probably going to be as big a factor as anything - being able to move the chains, make first downs, possess the football and keep their offense on the sidelines."

Whittingham respects new Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez and what he has done so far with the Wildcats. He believes that the new offense that Rodriguez is installing in Tucson will be challenging to plan for.

"First, I love what (Rodriguez) is doing," Whittingham said. "I think schematically I don't think there is a team in the country that does better. He does a great job with the run game. Very simplistic. It's almost all zone runs, big splits that you see with a lot of the spread teams that run zone and create natural creases that way.

"Does a great job with low degree of difficulty plays that are high yielders. Throwing to stationary targets, a lot of hitches, curl routes, bootlegs and things. Simplistic throws. They do a great job with the quarterback run game and making sure the quarterback is part of the run game. It's just so effective."

When Whittingham does his planning for the game, he will keep in mind the different aspects of Arizona's balanced offense. It is one of the key attributes that, he believes, makes the Wildcats' offense so dangerous.

"The key is the balance," he said. "You can't load up on the run or the throw because they are effective at both. [Arizona] is very balanced. Over 200 yards per game rushing, over 300 yards per game throwing, so there is not really any one area you can load up on.

"You've got to play good defense across the board. You have to tackle well. This is another team that does a good job getting the ball to their skill guys in space. You have to be good open-field tacklers."

Utah is focused on winning this weekend and will keep the focus on Arizona during practice. Arizona's visit will also be Senior Night for many of the Utes who want to leave with a win in the final home game.

"The mentality this week is all Arizona," he said. "That's all we're focused on. There is no margin for error. This is also the last game the seniors will play in Rice-Eccles. It is of utmost importance to us to send the seniors out the right way and have them go out on a positive note."

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