Know Your Opponent

InsidetheUtes.com Publisher Brian Swinney takes time to answer your questions, and give us a perspective on Saturday's game from the Utah side.

Is Kyle Whittingham from Pennsylvania, or have some kind of family tie to Pennsylvania?
"As far as I know, Whittingham has no ties to Pennsylvania."

What's the state of mind of the Utah program coming off Saturday's loss?
"Dejection right now. The team is very concerned about where they are and what is going on, but they've had a perfect storm of injuries, bad breaks, and turnovers that have kept them from being successful so far this year, so the issues aren't all on the field or things they can control. There's no way that they aren't questioning themselves as being able to compete in the Pac 12 right now. That's understandable. Kyle Whittingham is a strong minded guy and that rubs off on his team. They'll be mentally prepared Saturday."

It seems like these two teams are having identical problems. What's the biggest concern (i.e. turnovers, new starter at QB) of this team right now?
"The turnovers are a huge concern, but that isn't something that we should expect out of them every week. With Jon Hays though at QB, it's doubtful that the turnovers will stop completely. Hays being at QB is a big concern. He still hasn't proved that he's a Pac 12 quality quarterback and the Utes will struggle offensively with him at the helm. He's not Jordan Wynn."

Is there a position or area of the team that has underachieved, or hasn't lived up to expectation?
"The offensive line has battled injuries and is thin, but they haven't been as good as anticipated. Left tackle John Cullen has struggled with protection and penalties. The lack of pressure from the defensive ends has also been disappointing."

What is the strength of this team?
"The defensive line is very good, although the production, at least in the sack department, has been lacking, and that's a big concern. The defensive tackles are very good, and won't allow Graham to go up the middle. Star Lotulelei is a beast at DT and makes interior linemen look silly."

Just from a media standpoint, what is the one Pitt player that seems to be on the mind of the Utah coaches and players the most (maybe in press conferences and other media gatherings)?
"It's absolutely Ray Graham. He's an elite back and someone that every team has to watch out for. Utah had the same concerns about Dion Lewis last season though, and absolutely shut him down."

Is there a feeling that Utah can 'right the ship' with a win against Pitt?
"There would be a sense of relief and somewhat righting of the ship, but some of it will depend on how they play. Regardless of whether or not Utah gets a win against Pitt, they're still winless in Pac 12 play, and that's more important."

What's been the general feeling about competing this first year in the Pac-12?
"It's been a rougher go than anticipated. We knew there would be a few bumps and bruises and the thought of another 10 win season seemed like a stretch to start the year, but I don't think anyone thought it would be as tough as it has been. That said, the Utes have not played well, but the mistakes they got away with in the past, and were still able to beat Mountain West Conference teams with, are much more glaring now and resulting in losses to the higher quality opponents."

How many fans expect to travel to Pittsburgh this week?
"It's probably not going to be a huge contingent. 5,000 fans might be about right. Utah, like most west coast teams, won't travel well across the country."

Of any Utah player, whodo you feel is slated to have a breakout performance?
"It's time for cornerback Conroy Black to pick off a few passes in a game. He's a very good corner and matches up well with the big Pitt receivers. With Sunseri coming off a 4 pick game, Black needs to get his first pick and the year."


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