It was a good win at Pitt for our football game. It was a hard-fought game. The conditions weren't ideal with heavy winds and so-forth, but I thought the guys handled it well. We did a great job hanging on to the football. John White had an exceptional afternoon. The offensive line is a big part of that, and I thought they played well. Coleman Petersen was a big factor with four field goals and two PATs. He had a big game. Defensively, I couldn't have asked for a better effort across the board. They held a great running back to less than 50 yards. It was a solid performance from start to finish, particularly Derrick Shelby. He was our in-house player of the week and got some national honors as well. I thought the guys handled the road trip well. We left a day early because we were travelling two time zones. The credit goes to our players and how they prepared during the week, and we got the result.
We are back in conference play now, with six conference games in a row starting at Berkeley. Cal has put a lot of people in the NFL. We have our hands full, but we will be ready. We will have a great week of practice and will be ready to line up and play on Saturday.
Injury report: Dallin Rogers is out for the year with a knee injury unfortunately. We have four guys out for the year: Dallin, Jordan Wynn, Charles Henderson and Keith McGill. Devonte Christopher (ankle) is questionable again this week, and Tauni Vakapuna (ankle) is also questionable. We will see how they progress. We hope to get them back, but time will tell.
On the receivers: With DeVonte on the shelf, Dres Anderson, Reggie Dunn, Luke Matthews and Kenneth Scott are our feature guys. We didn't throw the ball a whole bunch against Pitt. Both teams had trouble throwing the football in the wind. I thought they blocked well also. The crew has a lot of upside. This is a young group and I think it's going to be a very good group for us.
On Cal running back Isi Sofele: He is a good player. We offered Isi way back out of Cottonwood. He wasn't ready to commit, and we filled up before he decided where to go. We liked him. If he wasn't going to play running back, he could easily be a defensive back. He's a versatile guy. He's doing a good job for them at tailback.
On the special teams against Pitt: On the kickoff return, we had him pinned at the 15 had we wrapped up and made the tackle. We missed some and he got bounced outside and turned on the speed. It wasn't a structural error, just us not finishing the play. The blocked punt was an assignment error. We had a miscount and he got a gimmee and was untouched to the punter. On the miscue on the snap, if you watch from the back, the ball got blown four feet with the wind. It made it difficult for us to handle. The bright spot was Coleman, so it wasn't all bad, but it wasn't our usual. We usually win the special teams battle going away.
On pass protection: We gave up seven sacks against Pitt, which is a boatload too many. The offensive line was responsible for three of those. There are other people involved in pass protection. Although the offensive line probably had their poorest day protecting the passer, we have to get it fixed. Pitt had a nice scheme, so I give them a lot of credit for what was done schematically. You're not going to win many games giving up seven sacks, but fortunately we came up with the win.
On Derrick Shelby: Derrick was all over the place. He made a bunch of plays. I've said for three straight weeks that he has played his best game as a Ute, and he's gotten better in successive weeks. This was by far his best performance. He's having a very good season so far to this point.
On the offense: We need to be more productive in the red zone. That's our biggest issue right now. The last game we were in the red zone 3-to-4 times and came away with nothing but field goals. If we can score touchdowns in the red zone, we would have won going away, but we didn't score in the red zone. In my mind, there are a lot of things we can improve upon, but the most pressing is scoring touchdowns in the red zone. It's an execution issue. We have a high percentage of penalties that have occurred in the red zone, and we have to eliminate that.
Kyle Whittingham Weekly Press Conference
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