Here's a transcript of Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham's pre-Utah State press conference:
KW: Can’t believe the season’s here already, but we’re excited about it. It’s been a long offseason for us. Our players have worked hard. Kind of a quiet offseason in a lot of ways. Our guys took care of business and didn’t have anything that was negative. From a player standpoint, I thought we handled ourselves pretty well.
The biggest thing obviously in the offseason was Dennis Erickson’s hire as the co-offensive coordinator, and we’re excited about that. I’m excited to see what the offense does on Thursday night. So, that’s the biggest thing that I’m anticipating.
Utah State, a very good opponent. What, did they win 11 games last year? Quality football team. They got most everybody back. New head coach, a lot of the same assistants and staff has returned. But we expect them to be every bit as good as last year. We have a big challenge ahead of us.
Reporter: Coach, looking ahead at Thursday, what are some of the biggest keys for your team defensively against Utah State?
KW: Defensively, I think we need to do a lot of the things we did last year. They had one touchdown through three and a half quarters offensively. We had the blocked punt early, which was something that was a huge part of the game and really changed the game. But defensively we played well for the most part. A little bit soft in the run at times, but we’ve got to tackle well and keep the quarterback in the cage and contained in the throw game and not let him get out. He’s very good at extending the play, and when he gets out and improvises, he usually does something really good, so we got to try to prevent that from happening. But overall I thought we played pretty well on defense last year as a whole.
Reporter: The history has been so lopsided between Utah and Utah State that some people shy away from the word “rivalry” with them. But with their recent success, what does that do to this series and your preparation?
KW: Well, we prepare the same way for every game regardless of who the opponent is. We’ve always had a great deal of respect for Utah State, and as I mentioned last year, they’re a terrific football team. We view anything in-state has a rivalry flavor to it, so we approach it that way from a mental standpoint. But like I said, they’re coming off an exceptional year and we are going to have to bring our A-game in order to have a chance to win.
Reporter: You’ve had some seasons where you’ve played a lesser opponent like a Division I-AA and then obviously this one. Do you any preference of what you’d like for the first game?
KW: I think ideally you like your first game of the year to be a I-AA opponent. I think that if you were laying out the schedule exactly how you wanted it to unfold. But to me I’ve never really been too concerned about how the games come up on the schedule. It’s beyond our control, or at least beyond my control, so I just don’t worry about it. But if we had a choice, yeah I think we’d rather do that.
Reporter: You’ve had some inconsistencies over the years with quarterback. What do you have to say about this year’s quarterback group and how you expect it to be.
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