Utah Utes football notebook: Team has miles to go to recoup
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Despite back-to-back lopsided losses, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that the Utes (8-2) can still have a very good season.
"We've got to rebound. Everybody's got to search and decide what they can do to make us a better football team as individuals," he said. "Take care of what they're able to control and then move forward."
At the moment, though, Whittingham acknowledged the Utes are not "feeling real good about ourselves."
Utah opened the season with eight straight victories before losing to TCU (47-7) and Notre Dame (28-3).
Senior receiver Shaky Smithson insists there are no feelings of frustration.
"I would say we have to rededicate ourselves and get back to basics," Smithson said. "We need to get back to practice, work hard and get back into that winning pattern."
Question is, how do the Utes rebound?
The answers varied.
"We just have to work harder. Everyone just has to take it upon themselves," said quarterback Jordan Wynn. "We've got to watch more film. We have to get this right."
Defensive end Derrick Shelby had a different take.
"I'm just a player. I just go out and do what my coaches say," he said. "We have to fix everything I guess."
The Utes (8-2) face San Diego State (7-3) Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium.
VISITING NOTRE DAME: Wide receiver Jereme Brooks dismissed the notion that Notre Dame's rich history cost Utah a chance at victory.
"We're not playing tradition," he said. "We're playing the 11 guys on the field."
Offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom, however, explained that there may be more to it than that.
"They're Notre Dame. They have their tradition for a reason," he noted. "We just didn't execute and we needed to."
NO INSTANT ANSWER: When asked about the momentum-swaying blocked punt that led to a Notre Dame touchdown in the first quarter, Whittingham reminded reporters that there is no replay board at Notre Dame Stadium.
"I don't know if you noticed that," he said. "So usually I can go to the replay board and get an idea of what happened and what the breakdown was."
Despite the lack of video assistance, Whittingham offered a somewhat detailed explanation.
"We were in the scheme where we were punting to our right. So we let the end guy on the left go and I think our splits might have been a little bit too tight and a little bit too short of a corner there," he said. "We held the ball too long getting it out and (it was a) great, athletic play by the Notre Dame defender."
Whittingham then qualified his remarks.
"But until I see the film, I can't tell you for certain. But I think after talking to the players on that side, I think that's what happened," he said.
PACKED HOUSE: The attendance was 80,795, the 219th consecutive sellout at Notre Dame Stadium. Since 1966, every game but one — a 1973 Thanksgiving tilt against Air Force — has been sold out at the historic facility.
EXTRA POINTS: Alums Eric Weddle and Jamal Anderson were on the Utah sideline ... Scouts from the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers were in attendance, as was a representative from the Citrus Bowl ... Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei and linebacker J.J. Williams each made their first starts of the season ... Former Utah All-American softball player Charmelle Green is now a senior assistant athletics director at Notre Dame. Ex-Ute defensive end Keith Embray also works for the Irish, as manager of student-athlete welfare and development program.
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