Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham insists this is not a time to panic. After reeling off 16 straight victories — a streak dating back to 2007 — the Utes were on the short end of a 31-24 decision last Saturday at Oregon.

"We believe in our process," Whittingham said. "It's worked well over the years."

As such, Utah didn't alter its approach to today's homecoming game against Louisville at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

The Utes, he added, just need to come back with an improved effort this week.

"We have to move forward and play better," Whittingham said. "The key is going to be how we react to this."

Quarterback Terrance Cain is confident the Utes will respond positively. He expects the team to push things up a notch and get back on the winning track.

"You've got to progress every week. You can't just sit back and be down on the loss," Cain said. "We lost and we've just got to get better every week."

Louisville (1-1) poses a formidable challenge. Whittingham said the Cardinals are comparable to Oregon in terms of talent, speed and athleticism.

Quarterback Justin Burke and running back Vic Anderson rank among the Big East Conference leaders in total offense and rushing, respectively.

Kicker Ryan Payne and return specialist Trent Guy are other notable performers.

On defense, cornerback Johnny Patrick tops a talented secondary for Louisville. The Cardinals visit Utah ranked 10th in the nation in total defense (223.5 yards per game).

The Utes, Whittingham noted, need to do a better job running the ball than they did at Oregon — netting just 119 yards on 33 carries.

"We did not do a good job getting movement at the line of scrimmage," he explained. "We need to break more tackles at the line of scrimmage and we need to be more physical when we've got the ball in our hands."

Running back Matt Asiata, who leads the Mountain West Conference in rushing, is expected to be closer to 100 percent than he was last week while recovering from a shoulder injury.

That, alone, should help the Utes' cause.

"If we can't run the football, everything is more difficult," Whittingham said. "We weren't efficient running the football on Saturday. The throwing game thrives when we run the ball effectively."

Cain struggled with his passes against Oregon. He completed 20-of-41 throws for 178 yards and was intercepted twice.

"His numbers were average due to a lot of factors," Whittingham said. "Everyone has to get better. I think he'll rebound and respond."

Cain is eager for the opportunity and made it clear he's still confident.

"He is a tough kid," Whittingham said. "He's resilient and things don't particularly bother him for long periods of time."

Cain, he continued, proved it during two-a-days by putting mistakes behind him.

Returning home after two consecutive games on the road should help.

"I think that will be a positive for him," Whittingham said. "It's always good to play in front of the home crowd."

EXTRA POINTS: The Utes are 54-30-4 in homecoming games. ... Whittingham is seeking his 40th victory as Utah's head coach. He's 39-15 overall. ... Utah baseball coach Bill Kinneberg will be presented with the Don Reddish Award after guiding the Utes to the NCAA tournament this past season. ... The Utah baseball and men's basketball teams will also be honored for winning MWC titles.

Utes on the air

Louisville (1-1) at Utah (2-1)

Today, 5:30 p.m.

Rice-Eccles Stadium


Radio: 700 AM

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com