I just need to be smart with the football. I can't turn the ball over like that. I think it's my fault that we lost tonight. —Utah QB Travis Wilson
CORVALLIS, Ore. — Utah quarterback Travis Wilson carried quite a load following Saturday's 21-7 loss at eighth-ranked Oregon State. The true freshman blamed himself for all four of the Utes' turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions) in the setback.
"I just need to be smart with the football," Wilson said. "I can't turn the ball over like that. I think it's my fault that we lost tonight."
Wilson's postgame remarks didn't catch Utah coach Kyle Whittingham off guard.
"He's a standup kid," Whittingham said. "That doesn't surprise me that he would take that attitude."
Despite the turnovers, Whittingham noted that Wilson's second career start for the Utes also included some positive things. He completed 15-of-28 passes for 172 yards, including an 18-yard scoring strike to tight end Jake Murphy.
It was Utah's only trip to the end zone.
"We have to finish drives. We move the football and then we don't finish drives," Whittingham said. "We've just got to be better finishers. I think that will come."
The Utes, no doubt, hope it's sooner than later. They're off to the worst start (2-5) in Whittingham's eight-year tenure as head coach and in the midst of the longest losing skid (four games) in his time at the helm.
"It definitely hurts, but I think this team has the potential to finish out the season strong and I think we'll do it," Wilson said. "We just need to keep on working hard. I definitely need to work hard, too."
Whittingham is looking for Wilson and others to simply step up and make more big plays.
"We've got good leaders. We've got a good attitude. These guys work hard," Whittingham said. "Monday through Friday is not our problem. It's making more plays on Saturday."
Although Utah never held a lead at Oregon State, the Utes had opportunities to do so. Mistakes and a lack of execution, though, kept things from materializing. A fumble deep in the red zone in the third quarter was especially costly.
It was a 14-7 game until Oregon State running back Storm Woods scored his third touchdown on a short run midway through the fourth quarter. His other scores were set up by takeaways.
"We made a few errors and they capitalized on them," said defensive tackle Dave Kruger. "So that was it. I'd say that's our biggest thing right there."
Kruger added that it's a team thing. The defense needs to create turnovers. They didn't have any against the Beavers.
All in all, the Utes have work to do in all three aspects — offense, defense and special teams.
"We have not been able to put a complete game together yet," Whittingham said.
The quest to do so, however, is ongoing,
Kruger acknowledged the team is determined to keep working at it — figure out what they're doing wrong and get it corrected.
The season, obviously, hasn't gone as expected. The Utes were picked to finish second behind USC in the Pac-12 South preseason media poll.
"Things happen," Kruger said. "Adversity gets thrown your way and you've just got to keep your head up, keep grinding and keep working as hard as you can."
EXTRA POINTS: Oregon State managed just 52 yards rushing. ... John White had a 29-yard run, his longest of the season. ... Linebacker Boo Andersen topped the Utes with six tackles. ... Murphy and Kenneth Scott led Utah with four receptions each. Luke Matthews had two catches for 41 yards. ... Highly touted Oregon State receiver Brandin Cook caught one pass for eight yards.
Utes on the air
California (3-5) at Utah (2-5)
Saturday, 7:45 p.m. M.T.
Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, Ut
TV: Pac-12 Network Radio: 700AM