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Utah Utes football: Coach happy overall with play during opening win

Published: Monday, Sept. 7 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Utah's Matt Asiata lost his helmet while trying to score vs. Utah State.    (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah's Matt Asiata lost his helmet while trying to score vs. Utah State. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

All things considered, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is pleased with where the Utes are following last week's 35-17 victory over Utah State.

"I think so," he said. "We've got a long ways to go and we have a lot of work to do, but after one game I think we're sitting in a decent spot."

Winning the game is obviously the most important thing, he noted, but there were other positives as well.

After getting down to details and addressing issues through film review, Whittingham was especially encouraged by how the offense was able to move the ball against USU.

In his debut as Utah's starting quarterback, Terrance Cain guided the team to 519 yards of total offense and 27 first downs. Matt Asiata rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns, while David Reed finished with 10 receptions and a score.

"Offensively we were very efficient. We ran the ball well and we were very efficient in the throw game," Whittingham said. "The glaring negative was the three turnovers."

Two fumbles and an interception weren't enough, however, to overshadow the successes. Nor, as it turned out, was being stopped at the goal line on one occasion.

Special teams proved to be a bright spot as the Utes answered some questions when it came to replacing All-American kicker/punter Louie Sakoda. Kicker Ben Vroman and punter Sean Sellwood got off to successful starts.

"Special teams-wise, we were very good. That was probably our strongest area," said Whittingham, who praised all phases, including the return game on both punts and kickoffs.

The defense, he noted, played hard but needs to clean a few things up.

Whittingham said missed tackles, mental errors and blown assignments, as well as avoiding big plays topped the list of things to address.

"Otherwise we played well most snaps," Whittingham said. "But you've got to be consistent."

The same can be said of preparation. Despite San Jose State's 56-3 loss to USC on Saturday, Whittingham said it won't alter how Utah approaches its next opponent. The Utes face the Spartans Saturday night in California.

"Every week is a different situation and a different matchup," Whittingham said. "So no that really doesn't have any bearing on anything."

Utah heads to San Jose State with the nation's longest active win streak. The Utes have won 15 straight games, dating back to a victory over Navy in the 2007 Poinsettia Bowl.

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