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Utes football: Utah's passing defense improved against BYU

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 4:58 p.m. MDT

BYU's Taysom Hill is tackled by Utah's Jared Norris as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University play football Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Provo.  
 (Tom Smart, Deseret News) BYU's Taysom Hill is tackled by Utah's Jared Norris as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University play football Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Provo. (Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Turns out Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was right when he said that BYU might be really enticed to throw the football prior to last Saturday’s rivalry game. A week earlier, Oregon State and quarterback Sean Mannion netted 443 yards in the air in a 51-48 overtime win over the Utes.

The Cougars wound up attempting 48 passes. Only 18, however, were complete.

To his recollection, Whittingham couldn’t remember a game with 30 incompletions. He had plenty of praise for his defense and the job it did on BYU quarterback Taysom Hill.

“Pass coverage always starts at the line of scrimmage. I thought we got after the quarterback. We had five sacks and several missed opportunities on sacks,” Whittingham said. “That guy’s hard to sack. He’s a lot like (Utah State’s) Chuckie Keeton, how he moves around back in the pocket — not quite as elusive as Chuckie but more powerful. He’s harder to get down.”

Utah celebrates their win over BYU  during NCAA football in Provo  Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013.  Utah won 20-13.  (Andrew J. Allred, Deseret News) Utah celebrates their win over BYU during NCAA football in Provo Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. Utah won 20-13. (Andrew J. Allred, Deseret News)

All things considered, Whittingham was pleased with the coverage. The Cougars wound up with 260 yards passing.

“I thought when you put it all together with the pass rush and the improved coverage in the secondary, I think that’s one of the reasons why you saw a low completion percentage,” he said.

CONFIDENT DRES: Utah receiver Dres Anderson said he’s never lacked confidence and has been a go-to guy who has been making plays for as long as he can remember. He’s certainly showing it this season. The junior currently leads the Utes in receiving yards (404), yards per game (101), receptions (18) and touchdown catches (three). His yardage total through four games is already 39 more than his team-leading total after 12 games in 2012.

“Dres has been a big plus for us this year,” Whittingham said. “I’ve been waiting for Dres to step and put up those kind of numbers for a couple of years now.”

Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham celebrates their win over BYU  during NCAA football in Provo  Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013.  Utah won 20-13.  (Andrew J. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham celebrates their win over BYU during NCAA football in Provo Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. Utah won 20-13. (Andrew J. Allred, Deseret News)

Whittingham added that Anderson has come into his own. He expects him to continue to develop.

GOOD NEWS: Whittingham led off his weekly press conference by noting that it was good news to hear that injured BYU running back Jamaal Williams was going to be OK. He suffered a concussion and a severe stinger in Saturday’s game and was taken off the field by ambulance and hospitalized overnight.

“It wasn’t as serious as it could have been and so that was something that was very positive to hear and we’re all glad about that,” Whittingham said.

EXTRA POINTS: With next week’s home game against UCLA on a Thursday night, Whittingham pointed out that this isn’t a typical bye week for the Utes. They’ll take Tuesday and Wednesday off before resuming practice Thursday. ... Kicker Andy Phillips has yet to miss a PAT (21-21) or field goal attempt (7-7) this season. ... Whittingham said there were no season-ending injuries in Saturday’s win at BYU. Those are the only type of injuries that the coach specifically comments on during the regular season.

Email: dirk@desnews.com Twitter: @DirkFacer

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