Utah Utes football: Whittingham thrilled with U.'s 'team effort'
Tom Smart, Deseret News
PROVO — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham heaped (pun intended) plenty of praise on his team after Saturday's 54-10 win at BYU.
"This was a great effort by our players," Whittingham said. "We were a pretty good team tonight."
The Utes had seven takeaways (six fumbles and an interception) in their most lopsided victory over the Cougars since a 49-0 triumph in 1922.
Linebacker Trevor Reilly highlighted the defensive effort by forcing three fumbles, making three tackles-for-loss, registering two sacks, recovering a fumble, breaking up a pass and notching a quarterback hurry.
Contributions were plentiful.
Michael Walker, Matt Martinez, Mo Lee, Derrick Shelby and V.J. Fehoko joined Reilly with fumble recoveries. Shelby and Fehoko wound up scoring touchdowns.
Chaz Walker and Star Lotulelei were credited with forced fumbles.
On the interception front, Quade Chappis picked off BYU quarterback Jake Heaps. Seven Utes had pass breakups. Shelby and Nate Fakahafua led the way with two apiece, while Reggie Topps, Ryan Lacy, Conroy Black and Dave Fagergren each joined Reilly with one. Shelby had two quarterback hurries and Lacy had one. Michael Walker and Jacoby Hale made tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
"Through three games our defense has been very opportunistic. Creating takeaways is a great quality to have," Whittingham said. "I've always said that turnover margin is the most important statistic in the game aside from the final score."
And the latter included significant contributions from the offense, which tallied a season-high 481 yards against a BYU defense that kept Ole Miss and Texas in check.
Running back John White IV ran for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Quarterback Jordan Wynn completed 16-of-30 passes for 239 yards and a pair of scores. The completions were spread among seven receivers. Dallin Rogers had a team-high four receptions. Dres Anderson, DeVonte Christopher and Jake Murphy finished with three. Reggie Dunn, Kendrick Moeai and Karl Williams pulled in one. Anderson and Murphy made the touchdown grabs.
Kicker Coleman Petersen made two field goals and five PATs.
"This was a nice win for our program. It was a team effort start to finish, which is a team mantra of ours," Whittingham said. "No matter what happens in the game we want to keep playing hard and do what we're supposed to do, and we did that tonight."
The Utes scored 47 unanswered points while overcoming a 10-7 deficit late in the second quarter.
"One of our points of emphasis this week was that this game doesn't always have to be close," Whittingham said. "I guess our guys took it to heart."
The Utes (2-1) made quite a statement a week after a 23-14 setback at USC in their Pac-12 opener.
"Our guys really hung in there and credit the players for how hard they played. They responded well to the disappointing loss last week," Whittingham said. "They had their minds in the right mode throughout this week of practice and came out with so many great performances tonight.
"So many positives came out of this game," he continued. "This was a team win."
The Utes have a bye this week before returning to action Oct. 1 for homecoming against Washington.
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