SAN FRANCISCO — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham didn't need to see what he already knew. Before speaking with the media following Saturday's 34-10 loss to California at AT&T Park, he declined an offer for a copy of the final statistics.
"No. I can predict what they were," Whittingham responded. "I have ESP."
Offensively, he said, nothing happened while reeling off the pitfalls such as the Utes' inability to run the ball or protect the passer.
"Right now we've got to figure out a way to move the football and score some points," Whittingham continued while lamenting his team's four turnovers against the Bears. "That is our No. 1 problem at this point and time, without a doubt."
The Utes managed just 178 yards of total offense in falling to 3-4 overall and 0-4 in Pac-12 play.
We've just got to continue to work and try to resolve our issues," Whittingham said before noting there's a "plethora" of them.
Problems surfaced often in the latest setback.
Quarterback Jon Hays had a woeful day. He was intercepted three times and fumbled once.
"I tried to make too much happen. I forced the ball into some places. I've got to be smarter. I've got to do the right things," said Hays, who completed 11-of-22 passes for 148 yards. "I mean that loss is all on me. The offense goes as I go and I turned the ball over four times. So it's all my fault."
Hays, though, had some help in that regard. He was sacked four times in a game where Utah managed just 13 net yards on the ground.
"I really didn't think it was going to be this difficult," said running back John White IV, who was held to 39 yards on 15 carries. "I was expecting a great game. Man, I don't know."
Cal opened the game's initial touchdown drive late in a scoreless first quarter. The Bears converted on third down three times while marching 77 yards on 12 plays, capping things off with a 5-yard run by Isi Sofele early in the second.
Trailing 7-0 after Giorgio Tavecchio added the PAT, Utah's response was short-lived and damaging.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Hays fumbled the ball on a run when hit by Cal nose guard Aaron Tipoti. Safety D.J. Campbell recovered it for the Bears on the Ute 27-yard line. It eventually led to a 35-yard field goal by Tavecchio with 9:24 left in the second quarter to make it 10-0.
Utah's next two possessions ended with three plays and a punt. Cal followed the second one with another successful kick by Tavecchio. The 37-yard field goal came with just over a minute to play in the half.
It turned out to be more than enough time for things to get even worse for the Utes before the break. After picking up their second first down of the game — on a roughing-the-passer penalty that moved them to the Cal 30 — Hays was picked off again. Cal linebacker Mychal Kendricks stepped in front off a pass intended for tight end Jake Murphy on the right sideline and returned it to Utah territory.
Cal quarterback Zach Maynard then completed a 30-yard pass to Marvin Jones before connecting on a 12-yard scoring strike to Keenan Allen with 27 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Besides a 20-0 halftime deficit, the Utes had a variety of other statistical shortcomings including fewer yards (217-35) and first downs (12-2). They had minus-6 yards rushing at the half and were a paltry 1-of-5 in third-down situations.
Cal, meanwhile, converted on 6-of-11 opportunities in the half and scored on all four trips inside the red zone in the decisive second quarter.
Things didn't get any better for Utah after the break.
The Utes punted on their first possession of the third quarter and then watched the Bears move 87 yards on 11 plays to put another touchdown on the board. A 4-yard keeper by Maynard finished things off.
Trailing 27-0, Utah endured more misery when Hays was intercepted by Cal cornerback Stefan McClure on the next drive.
A reversal of fortune — albeit a minor one — materialized a few minutes later when the usually sure-footed Tavecchio was wide left on a 29-yard field attempt.
Things continued to go Utah's way when Griff Robles replaced Hays at quarterback on the possession that followed. However, it was punter Sean Sellwood who made the most significant contribution. On fourth-and-8 from the Utah 22, he completed a 17-yard pass to defensive lineman Star Lotulelei on a fake punt to keep the drive alive.
Cal, however, killed it two plays later when cornerback Josh Hill intercepted the re-inserted Hays for a 32-yard pick-six as the nightmare resumed for Utah.
After falling behind by 34, the Utes managed to put their only points on the board — scoring on a 36-yard field goal by Coleman Petersen and on 14-yard touchdown run by White down the stretch.46 comments on this story
It was far too little, obviously, to affect the outcome of a game pitting two teams in search of their first conference wins.
"I am surprised that we didn't match the intensity," Lotulelei said. "I thought we did a real good job during the week and prepared. My teammates, I thought, were all ready to go."
Cal, however, got on top quickly and Lotulelei noted that the Utes lost confidence and it "went downhill."
Utah will seek to bounce back Saturday at home against Oregon State.
"We've just got to band together as a team and player harder," said linebacker Chaz Walker.
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