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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, Justin had an excellent week in practice, and Justin was playing a bunch for us in the last three or four weeks and has continued to get better and better. He’s been playing two roles for us, outside corner and nickel. We’ve had four guys, really, that play those three spots.

We got Daveon Orphay and Keith McGill outside exclusively, Mike Honeycutt who plays inside exclusively, and then Justin is the swing-guy. Justin has had a good enough week at practice. We felt he deserved to get a start, so he started opposite the Keith in place of Orphay, but then we brought Orphay in three or four series later and moved Justin inside. So he played two positions and got a lot of reps and did a good job. He did get beat on the touchdown late in a game, but the secondary is a whole. (I'm) very proud of how they played, but, you know, we still got to get better.

Reporter: Has Keith become the next University of Utah shutdown corner?

KW: He might. I mean he might be that. He had a great game Saturday, although I know he feels he should’ve came away of his interception or two. He was right there, and he just misplayed the ball a little bit and couldn’t come down with it, but they were going at him with their best receiver, and Keith was lights-out. He’s got that great length, and that’s why we moved him initially.

He’s got the 6-foot-3 height,and he’s got the biggest wingspan on the team and so much athleticism. You know, he’s a lot like Sean Smith. I keep comparing him to Sean throughout his time here. But, yeah, to answer your question, he’s had a great progress. He’s progressed from Game 1 all the way through, and if he keeps it up, then he’s going to play football for a long time.

Reporter: Coach, can you just talk a little bit about Oregon’s offense, the weapons they have there.

KW: Yeah, great weapons. The quarterback, and I guess, you know, he got dinged up a little bit in the game, and we expect him to play well in one game or the other. I mean, you know more about it at this point in time than I do, but it starts with the quarterback, one of the best, if not the best, in the country. In the Pac-12, we see just see one great quarterback after another week after week after week. He may be the best of them all.

De'Anthony Thomas, the running-back: tremendous. The receivers, the Huff kid, he’s a great player. Their offensive line has been good for a lot of years, so they got a lot of weapons. Their tempo is another thing that’s a weapon for them. They’re as fast as anybody in the country as far as getting plays off, and so they have not missed a beat with a Chip going to Philadelphia. You know, they’ve just picked up where they left off.

Reporter: Coach, how encouraging was it to see Oregon get beat by Stanford?

KW: Well, they’re not invincible. I guess that’s what that told us, and for a while there they looked invincible, and Stanford proved that not to be the case. But they’re still a heck of a football team and one of the best teams in the country. They’ve got all our respect, but it was ... It provided a little bit of a blueprint, even though you can’t all of a sudden transform who you are and try to become Stanford. I mean, you can’t do that, but it gave us some good ideas.

Reporter: Did playing Arizona State last week, similar tempo, similar type personnel, help the preparation for Oregon and their tempo and their speed this week?

KW: It does, and that’s really the exception now is when you play a non-tempo team. That’s the exception to the rule. Almost every week seems to be a tempo, spread attack, and so that’s kind of how football is evolving, and we're getting semi used to that, I guess you can say.

Reporter: Can you talk a little bit about Nate Orchard and the way that he, himself, plays and improved the last couple of games?

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