Mike Sorensen: Despite disappointing year, Utes aren't that far from contending
“The record doesn’t say that,’’ he said. “You are what your record says you are. It’s not about being close. That doesn’t cut it.’’
However, Whittingham also recognizes that the Pac-12 is much improved since the Utes entered the league in 2011, which makes it that much tougher to compete.
“Like I said all season and still maintain, I think we’re a better football team this year than we were last year,’’ he said.
So with the Pac-12 showing parity among its top 10 teams, what does the U. have to do to get out of the bottom tier of the league to where it can get a yearly bowl bid and be in contention to perhaps win a division title like Arizona State did this year, two years after a 6-7 season?
Whittingham said he feels the Utes are competitive with anyone in the league on the line of scrimmage, where they have top players and a fair amount of depth. He also knows he had two of the best kickers in the league this year in punter Tom Hackett, a sophomore, and Andy Phillips, a freshman.
But Whittingham said his team needs to get better on the “perimeter,’’ with faster receivers and running backs and, of course, a consistent quarterback. With the recruiting contact period starting this week, Ute coaches are already working on it.
While the Utes may still be a few years from going to the Rose Bowl, with some improvements in certain areas, they could start winning the close games in 2014 that didn’t go their way in 2013.
Then they can start spending their holidays at bowl games again.
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