Utah Utes football: Utes now in must-win situation against Arizona this Saturday
JOHN LOK, AP
SEATTLE — It was a somber scene as the Utah Utes left CenturyLink Field late Saturday night. They didn’t have much to say in the aftermath of a 34-15 loss to Washington. The loss dropped the Utes to 4-6 overall, meaning they’ll need to close out the season with wins over Arizona at home and Colorado on the road just to become bowl eligible.
“It’s definitely frustrating when we can’t do anything on all sides of the ball,” senior defensive tackle Star Lotulelei said while noting shortcomings on offense, defense and special teams.
The setback assures Utah of its first non-winning regular-season record since 2002 — a fact that, obviously, isn’t sitting well for a team with a nine-year run of consecutive bowl appearances.
“We can’t do anything but move on, get ready for next week,” Lotulelei noted. “We have to go two-for-two if we want to keep this season going for a bowl game. So that’s what we’re looking for.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Johnson said the Utes have simply got to find a way to get a win Saturday. That’s where the focus has to be after the lopsided loss to Washington.
“It was absolutely awful tonight,” Johnson said while noting that Utah’s passing game was “terrible” with eight completions and just 55 yards. “We’ve got to be accurate. You’ve got to catch the balls.”
Johnson acknowledged he was hot about what had happened against the Huskies.
“All your focus has to go to Saturday and trying to find a way to win that game,” Johnson said.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham called his team’s throw game “abysmal.” The lack of success made it difficult for the Utes to move the chains. They converted on just 1-of-13 third-down situations and none over the final three quarters.
“We dropped two many balls, just never got in sync with throwing the football,” Whittingham said. “We’ve got to be more balanced offensively."
The Utes fared well on the ground with John White rushing for 142 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
There were few other bright spots, however.
Two Utah turnovers led to touchdown drives for Washington. Quarterback Keith Price led the Huskies with 277 yards passing. Bishop Sankey finished with 162 yards rushing, while tight end Austin Seferain-Jenkins and wide receiver Kasen Williams each had seven catches.
Washington’s defense, meanwhile, limited Utah to 188 yards and nine first downs.
“Give the Huskies credit,” Whittingham said before directing his postgame remarks to the challenges the Utes now face.
"We have no margin for error. So we’ve got to be ready to find a way to win,” he explained. “That’s the bottom line. Can’t win the second one until you win the first one.”
After taking two steps forward with back-to-back wins over California and Washington State, Whittingham acknowledged that the Utes took a major step backward in Seattle.
“So we’ve got to get back to the drawing boards,” he said.
Whittingham noted that the starting point is always coaching and doing a better job of getting the guys ready and scheming.
“We’ve also got to a better job of making more plays during the course of the game,” Whittingham said. “We have done that the last two weeks, but we didn’t do it today.”
The outcome has put the Utes in a must-win scenario over the next two weeks.
“Our backs are against the wall. We’re going to go out swinging,” said junior linebacker Trevor Reilly. “But either way, we’re going to come out and close to be bowl eligible.”
Utah Utes home finale
Arizona (6-4, 3-4) at Utah (4-6, 2-5)
Saturday, 8 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 700
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