Kyle Whittingham: '(UCLA) really has no weaknesses right now' (+video/audio)
Full transcript of Utah football's Monday press conference
Reporter: Coach, third downs, offensively and defensively. Looking back at last year's UCLA game, Brett Hundley ran wild. Can you talk about that scenario, and then offensively what you guys can do to better the 1-of-14 (on third downs) and extend drives?
KW: First of all, defensively we're not doing bad in third downs overall for the season. I think we're somewhere in the mid-30s or upper-30 percentile. Our goal on defense is 30 percent. If we can hold teams to 30 percent or less, we feel really good about that.
Offensively, we were actually doing pretty good on third down up until this past ball game. We were in the mid-40s, and this last game obviously hurt that percentage. On offense in order for us to move the chains, do a better job moving the chains in this past game, it was just a matter of making a few more plays. We had a couple drops, some penalties and things that negated those third down conversions.
Defensively, we've got to do a better job of keeping Hundley — when you relate back to last year — in the cage. He escaped far too many times, predominantly on third down, so we have got to do a better job with our pass rush and our spacing within those lanes.
Reporter: You already touched on Barr, and what he does for their defense, but what else are they doing defensively because they seem to be making plays, and who are the other guys to keep an eye on Thursday night?
KW: Well, they're good across the board on defense. The Marsh kid, the defensive lineman, No. 99, I'm really high on him. He's Curtis Marsh's son that played here way back when, and he's an active, tough defensive lineman. Their secondary is athletic. Their backers are active, and so there really isn't anything that you could say is a weakness on their defense. They're playing exceptionally well. They do a good job of mixing in some odd front and mixing up coverages.
Coach Mora, that really is his forté on the defensive side of that ball, and you can see that showing up their schemes.
Reporter: Kyle, in light of the Lane Kiffin firing over the weekend, just in general terms as a college football coach, how much concern is there for the need or the want to win now and get results now and what a short lifespan coaches can have?
KW: That's the nature of the profession right now. It's not very patient. There's a lot of money at stake. It's big business. I think Connecticut did the same thing. I think the coach at UConn got let go this week as well.
That's the way it is. There's no changing it. Every college coach. I don't think there's anybody that doesn't want to win in the worst way and is far more concerned with that than what's going on externally. All you do is just do the best job you can, and the other stuff that's out of your control, you don't really worry about.
Reporter: Kyle, I know it's very, very early, but if you get a win this week, everybody in the South Division will have one loss in Pac-12 play already. Could you just talk about how Pac-12 play is developing so far in your eyes?
KW: Yeah, I think the Pac-12 North has a distinct advantage. I'm not sure what the overall head-to-head record is, but I know it's not good for the South. But, what that does for us is it actually helps us because the North has beat up on some people. We've got to worry about our own selves, and if we're fortunate enough to get some wins, then we're right in the thick of things.
Reporter: And the second question home-field advantage doesn't seem to be obviously as prevalent as it was in the Mountain West. Could you talk about how wins don't seem to be as common as home as they were in the Mountain West?
KW: I think I mentioned a few weeks ago that the teams that are coming in here, there's a dramatic difference in a lot of the talent levels of the teams that have come in here. I will say our lack of home-field advantage is not because of lack of fan support.
Our fans have been outstanding. They fill the stadium up every week. They're loud. It's a great environment. We can't thank the fans enough for the support they've given us over the last several years.
To answer your question — to me the bottom line there is that we have a bunch of high-quality, top-25-type teams coming through here on a regular basis, and so that's been the biggest reason for that.
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