SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said it was a situation that was almost too good to be true. Quarterback Travis Wilson, a true freshman, was getting better each game without a hiccup.
Then came Saturday’s 34-15 loss to Washington at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. Wilson completed just 8-of-23 passes for 55 yards in his fifth career start for the Utes.
“This was the hiccup. Hopefully it’s the only hiccup and we can move forward from there,” Whittingham said. “But in three straight weeks he had taken big steps forward and progressed and this week was one that we weren’t able to make that happen.”
At his weekly press conference, Whittingham said that the biggest disappointment in the Washington game was the inability to throw the football. He added that the problems were across the board and not just one thing that could be pinpointed — inaccurate passes, dropped balls and spotty protection.
“We were just horrendous in the throw game and that really was the primary difference in the game,” Whittingham said.
Utah’s inability to throw the ball effectively led to just 188 yards of total offense, and nine first downs. The Utes were 1-of-13 in third-down situations.
“I definitely need to improve from last week,” Wilson acknowledged. “I feel real embarrassed about Saturday.”
Wilson is determined to make sure he’s comfortable and that he reads Arizona’s defense well Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. As such, Wilson is studying a lot. He said his preparation for Washington wasn’t good enough.
“I felt like since we kind of had a streak going I thought it would be a lot easier and every game would just be a lot easier,” Wilson said. “That’s where I kind of fell short. I wasn’t making smart decisions and I wasn’t making good throws.”
Senior offensive lineman Miles Mason agreed with Wilson that last week’s passing woes were embarrassing, especially with all the athletes Utah has on offense.
“To see us only get 55 yards (passing) is a statement to all of us,” Mason said, while adding that it reflects on the whole unit.
With Utah (4-6) needing to close out the regular season with victories over Arizona and Colorado to become bowl eligible, the situation has to be rectified quickly.
“We’ve got to be able to move the ball through the air,” Whittingham said. “There’s no two ways about it.”
ROAD WOES: Utah is now 0-5 on the road this season, something the Utes haven’t done since 1983.
Whittingham said that playing good teams has a lot to do with it. Utah losses away from Rice-Eccles Stadium this year include Utah State, Arizona State, UCLA, Oregon State and Washington.
“I think part of it is just the level of competition and the other part I can’t answer,” Whittingham said. “In year’s past, we’ve been pretty good on the road but this year, obviously, we’ve been very poor on the road and that’s one of the major issues we’ve had.”
RECORD-SETTING ‘CAT: Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey, who will face the Utes Saturday, was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for a conference-record 366 yards in the Wildcats’ 56-31 victory over Colorado. The sophomore leads the Pac-12 and is tied for second nationally with 138.1 yards per game.
WYNN DEPARTS: Former Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn, who opted to retire after multiple shoulder injuries, has left school and returned home to California. Wynn earned his bachelor’s degree in economics earlier this year.
STILL SILENT: Whittingham once again declined to discuss injuries when asked about the status of players like running back Kelvin York and defensive end Jacoby Hale.
“No. We don’t even talk about injuries,” Whittingham said of the policy he has implemented this season. “So, we’re just ... nope.”
EXTRA POINTS: Utah’s 25 seniors will be honored in pregame ceremonies . . . U. Olympians Jake Gibb (volleyball) and Michelle Plouffe (basketball) will be recognized during a break in the first quarter . . . Tickets are still available for Saturday’s game and can be purchased at www.utahutes.com, 801-581-UTIX or at the Rice-Eccles Stadium box office.