Kyle Whittingham: This team is better this year than it was last year, despite the record

Audio, video and a transcript of the Utah football press conference

Published: Monday, Nov. 11 2013 4:15 p.m. MST

Whittingham press conference video, 11/11

KW: Yeah, that’s pretty impressive after two-week break to have those first three plays: sack, sack and tackle for loss, and not in that order. There was a stretch there where we were starting fast on offense, but you know, last week was certainly not one of those or Saturday.

Defensively as well. We didn’t start particularly well on defense. We gave up a score again, which has happened quite often this season on the first drive, and so I think, starting fast has been something that has not been a strength of ours most weeks. To the defense's credit, they rallied up and they didn’t give anything up until, you know, midway through the fourth quarter, unfortunately. The defense, had they been able to hold that lead and it wouldn’t been a masterpiece on defense. As it was, it was just a very good effort.

Reporter: Coach, the defense is what I was thinking about on this. With the opening there, giving up that opening touchdown again and locking down so much. Are there adjustments that are being made or is it just, there still a way of giving them out, just starting out right from the beginning playing the way they should and executing the way they should …

KW: Some adjustments, but more than anything, a couple missed tackles on the first drive and a couple gap assignment, missed assignments, I should say, on gaps. There were no major adjustments that took place, nothing that Arizona State ran took us by surprise.

I mean, when you’re as successful as they have, they scored 50 points or more in five of their eight games. They’re not going to change much, and 50 points or more in the last three in succession, and so we didn’t expect them much to change, didn’t get them much to change, but they executed very well in the first drive. We didn’t execute very well on defense and missed some tackles, and they got in the end zone.

Reporter: Kyle, Xs and Os aside from the defense, what does it say about their character that, with all the struggles the offense has had, after that game and said, “Hey, it’s our fault. It’s on us.”

KW: That’s how it should be. We’re a team, we win as a team, we lose as a team. When the defense has been playing well lately, that’s no secret, but there’s been games this year where the offense has played exceptionally well and haven’t played so well on defense, and so, we have arrived in no area of our team. We’re a work in progress across the board, and that’s the mentality you expect your players to have, and if the roles were reversed, play well on offense in the last few weeks, and not so well on defense, you’d expect the offensive guys to step up and have that same mentality.

Reporter: Here we are in the 10th week, and you’d still be work in progress. Was that something that you, I mean, you always said, probably a shock, when …

KW: We’re a work in progress from start to finish, we’re the same way in ’08, ’09, ’04. Every football team’s a work in progress, and that’s something. My point is you never arrived. I’m not trying to say, "Hey, give us more time, we’ve got things to work ..."

We always have things to work on, as does everyone in the country. You go talk to Nick Saban. I'm guaranteeing you, he'll say they got a bunch of stuff to work on. That's more a coaching mentality, more so than trying to grasp its straws. I didn’t mean to give that impression.

Reporter: And then, did the goal of making it to a bowl game obviously is still there, is that …?

KW: Absolutely, that’s our No. 1 goal and the math gets easier and easier as the season goes on. Not we’ve got to win two out of three. I mean that’s the long and short of it, and so we’ve got to work it out for us.

Reporter: Defensively, personnel-wise, I noticed a lot of Justin Thomas out there on the field for you. In fact, I think he may have even started …

KW: He did.

Reporter: Is there a change in the two-deep there?

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