Kyle Whittingham: If you had told me Andy Phillips was going to be 12 of his first 14 kicks, we all would have taken that
Full video, audio and transcript of Utah football press conference
KW: We were handling it well up until Saturday night, but like I said, I thought we came out for the first time all season long without that fire we’ve had in every single game up to that point. And it has been an emotional year, ups and downs. We’ve been a mentally tough team and a very resilient team, but one thing we did do is we bounced back in the second half and played with that fire and fought our way back into it. In fact, we go from 20-7 at halftime to 21-20 in a pretty big hurry. So, we did a nice job of coming back after we were down first half, but you’re right. It’s been an emotional season, but we’ve just got to be able to handle that.
Reporter: Coach, as far as your defense getting off the field at third down, what’s the single biggest thing that needs to change on that, make that better?
KW: Well, it hasn’t been a single thing you can pinpoint. It’s been some run plays, some throw plays. I mean, it hasn’t been a particular coverage. I don’t think there’s any one common denominator. We’ve just got to find a way to make that play on third down, and we hadn’t been able to do that with enough regularity this year.
Reporter: Coach, USC has several injuries as well. What are your thoughts on maybe coming out with official injury reports? There’s a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Do you prefer that? What do you prefer?
KW: Yeah, I would prefer the NCAA to have a standardized way of handling injuries, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen. The NCAA is a much larger ... And Division I larger body, you know, than NFL has it, but they’re a little more compact and able to control things a little bit better and standardize things, but I think that it would be nice if they did do that and everyone adhered to the same format and the same way of announcements and releases of the injury report. But until then, we’ll just continue to not have one.
Reporter: Along those lines, I guess, Marquise Lee is a little banged up, but if you can get, I mean, he’s still considered the best receiver in the country. How do you deal with a guy like that?
KW: Yeah, he’s tremendous and he’s a guy that you better be aware of where he is, and if you have double coverage built into your package like we do most weeks, he’s going to be the focal point of that. He did not play the second half last week, but I think that was maybe more for precautionary reasons. Apparently, he’s feeling pretty good. We’re expecting to see him, and if not, then we’ll adjust, but our plan going forward is we expect him to play.
Reporter: I’ll embarrass Trevor because he’s just right there. Can we just talk about his plays recently, and just his nose for the ball?
KW: Yes, instinctive player, he’s one of our big-play guys on defense, if not our biggest-play guy on defense, and we rely on him to be a disrupter and make those plays. He made a big play on fourth down and goal early in the game. Sacked the quarterback to stop that drive. He’s a guy that we rely on week in and week out to step up and make big plays for us, and he’s done that.
Reporter: Coach, you talked about how important it was to really make that through the season with one quarterback. Is it reaching the point where the game’s gotten so physical that the teams just can’t expect that anymore?
KW: I don’t think so. I think that’s still do-able. I think that’s very do-able, and hopefully we’ll get Travis back and that he won’t have missed that two quarters plus a little bit in the second quarter. Time will tell, but I think, if you look a little bit at the Pac-12 and which is going on right now and most teams, their quarterbacks are healthy to this point in the season.
Reporter: Coach, there used to be, at least from a fan perspective, sort of a mystique about USC and their program and their stadium, but it seems like a lot of that has gone, and especially for you guys on your team and your program. How important is that they are able now to go in there and are say, “Hey, is that the next team”? It’s not, “Oh, it’s USC.”
KW: Well, I think there’s still a certain aura about just the name. You know, Southern Cal Trojans. I mean, that’s still a name brand and one of the most storied programs in the country. But I don’t think that’s bothered us the last two times we’ve played them. I think we’ve matched them up pretty good and played them very competitively, and I think we were just short of both games. But hopefully, this year, we’ll go down there with the right attitude and be able to compete again. So we’ll see what happens.
Special thanks to Russell Olsen who transcribed the press conference for the Deseret News.
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