Whittingham on UNLV

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham discussed last week's loss to New Mexico and this week's game with UNLV during his weekly meeting with the media

On the Loss to New Mexico
"It was a disappointing loss to New Mexico, especially when you consider the fact we had a 24-10 halftime lead and a 24-3 lead prior to that. If you told me we were not going to hold on to that lead, I would have said you're crazy. I would have bet all my money on our defense. But it didn't hold up.

"We did some good things in the first half. Brett was very sharp in the first half. The running game was very efficient in the first half. Post (Darryl Poston) was on his way to a 100-yard rushing game in the first half, then he got his knee dinged up early in the third quarter, which took a little of the air out of our run game.

"Nonetheless, we still had a chance to win it in the end. Eric Shyne had a nice interception to set us up inside the 10-yard line with not a whole lot of time left in the game. The offense capitalized and put it in the end zone to go up 31-27. Then, we just couldn't get a stop on that last drive by New Mex.

"We played two good quarters. But football is a 60-minute game. It is very obvious, we need to regroup again and get ready for UNLV.

On the UNLV Game
"We've got UNLV coming to our place on Saturday. They're having some struggles of their own. I think they're on a six-game skid. But we can't overlook anybody at all. We have to give our entire focus to this game Saturday, come out and try to get a win.

"There's a lot of jockeying for position in the conference right now. Except for the Cougars. They're sitting there on top right now, unblemished. But all we can do is we can't look any further than this game this week. There are mathematical possibilities and this and that. But we just need to get ourselves a win, take care of our business. There is still a lot of football left. Fully one-third of the season is left on the schedule.

"What we can't do is feel sorry for ourselves, get down, throw in the towel or any of that stuff. We've got to perservere, much like the situation we were in last year. The situation is almost identical. We came into UNLV on a three-game losing streak, although the game was on the road and it is at our place this year. But we had a bye week after that game. So there are a lot of similarities to the situation we're in right now, as opposed to what we were in last year. We were able to fight our way through last year and we've got to take that same approach and fight our way out of it this year. That's really all you can say."

On the Second Half Last Week
"Defensively, missed tackles ... we missed 23 tackles in that game and the vast majority were in the second half. We have been averaging about six missed tackles a game. When you miss 23 in one game ... we hadn't done that in probably 12-15 years. It has been a while. I can't recall the last time we missed that many tackles. Defensively, that was our main issue, with the inability to man-cover. Our man coverage, for whatever reason, was not good at all in the second half.

"Offensively, we didn't run the ball as efficiently as we did in the first half. We just missed on some deep balls. Rat (Brett Ratliff) put some balls out there that were just off the fingertips or batted away at the last minute ... which could have been a big difference.

"But the bottom line is, regardless of what happened in the second half, a 24-10 lead we should not let get away from us. Although you look at Michigan State-Northwestern. Football's a crazy game. There are things out there that happen each Saturday that you can't predict or certainly don't expect.

"Like I said, we just have to take the approach that all is not lost. We're 4-4. That's miles away from where we hoped to be at this point in the season. But we still have four football games left and back-to-back home games, which is a positive for us. All our energy and focus this week is geared toward UNLV this Saturday."

On Resiliency On This Team, Compared to the End of Last Season
"We'll find out. I hope so. The leadership has got to step forward, like it did at the end of last year and like it did against TCU this year. The coaching staff has got to stay positive, which we will do. I'll guarantee that. But we'll find out what kind of resiliency we have."

On Missing Personnel Last Week
"Those guys are good football players. We'd like to have them in the lineup. But there aren't many teams in the country who aren't missing a few guys here and there."

On Possible Personnel Changes
"No real wholesale changes. Brett (Ratliff) bounced back from a disappointing performance against Wyo. and put together a good game, particularly a good first half. He took care of the ball. We didn't turn it over. If you'd have handed me that stat sheet and said here you go, 394 yards of total O, no turnovers, no points ... I would have bet my house that we would have had a victory. But it's a 60-minute game."

On UNLV's Struggles
"Quarterback has been a little bit of an issue. They've been unsettled there. That's been one issue. The running game. They've been rushing for less than 100 yards a game. Eighty-something yards a game is what they're averaging, which is tough to do. You've got to have an efficient run game to make this offense go. You talk to Urban (Meyer), who I guess you'd say is one of the architects of the offense, it's all predicated on being able to run the ball efficiently. That's the first thing he'll tell you. If you can't run the ball effectively, everything else becomes very difficult. I think that's what's going on there."

On Having an Advantage from Knowing Former Utah Offensive Coordinator Mike Sanford's Schemes
"I think it does. Him knowing us gives him the same edge. It probably cancels it out. With him being here for two years and knowing what we're all about. But one thing there is obviously, great similarity offensively. That means during the week, our defense will work a lot against our offense. We'll get some faster pictures there. You can't always do that if there are a lot of differences between who you're playing and what you do yourself."


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