SALT LAKE CITY — Coach Kyle Whittingham is known as a pretty conservative coach, but he took some chances in Saturday night’s game, including one that resulted in a touchdown for his team and another that may have cost his team a chance at a victory in the fourth quarter of the loss to Arizona.
After converting a touchdown on a fake field goal in the first half, the Utes tried a pass on fourth down on a fake punt in a tie game in the fourth quarter only to come up short when Sean Sellwood’s pass to Mike Honeycutt was stopped by the Wildcats.
Arizona took over on downs at the Utah 41 and four plays later pushed in for what turned out to be the winning touchdown.
“That’s football, you make some of those plays and you don’t make some,’’ said Whittingham.
He said the fake punt was “designed great” by special teams coach Jay Hill, but it wasn’t executed properly.
“It was there — the ball was just behind our guy and he had to adjust back to catch the ball and allowed the defender to catch up to him,’’ Whittingham said. “It was drawn up beautifully, we just didn’t execute it.’’
The Utes’ risk-taking began in the first quarter when the Utes went for it on 4th and 1 at the 4-yard line, only to be stopped.
“The fourth and inches at the 4-yard line, I’d do it again; if you can’t make six inches when you’re playing a high-powered offense like Arizona’s, field goals aren’t going to do much good,’’ Whittingham said.
Then early in the second quarter, the Utes perfectly executed a fake field goal, with holder Sellwood flipping the ball back to placekicker Coleman Petersen, who ran it in around the right end for the touchdown.
Whittingham called that one a “gimme” because of the way Arizona had shown its defense all year long.
As for the failed fake punt, Whittingham has no regrets.
“You don’t second-guess yourself, you don’t look back,’’ he said. “We haven’t had an exceptional amount of risks this year, probably haven’t taken enough risks. We were playing to win.’’
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company