SALT LAKE CITY — Through eight games, the Utah Utes have given up just 17 points in the third quarter this season. The number swells, however, to 59 in the fourth.

“I think if you looked at those year-in and year-out, I don’t know if there would be a pattern because we have looked at that,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “But I think one thing our defensive coaches do a great job of is halftime adjustments, and I think third-quarter production is a direct product of that.”

Whittingham, though, acknowledged that in-game adjustments may need to improve if the Utes aren’t as good in the fourth quarter.

“It’s kind of like turnovers,” he said. “Last year we led the conference in interceptions. This year we can’t intercept a ball to save our life.”

While noting that the Utes have just three picks this season, Whittingham said it might just be circumstance and not necessarily something they’re doing.

Senior cornerback Ryan Lacy is confident those numbers will rise.

“The interceptions will come,” he said. “But it’s just tough because the ball goes in the air only a certain amount of times deep, and Brian Blechen’s back there knocking the ball out.”

Lacy, who tops the team with two interceptions, believes more opportunities will come.

“We’ll get picks,” he said.

Whittingham liked what he saw in last week’s 49-27 victory over California.

“I thought the corners played well, particularly Ryan Lacy,” Whittingham said. “I thought he had an excellent game, probably his best game as a Ute.”

HOME, SWEET HOME: After making his first two starts on the road, quarterback Travis Wilson picked up his first win last Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“It was very nice to play at home. It was nice playing in front of the home crowd,” Wilson said. “There was a lot more excitement and I think energy, too.”

Wilson noted that he fed off the energy and it enhanced his confidence.

“I felt like I was doing everything I could, and to have all the fans there was a great opportunity,” Wilson said.

KEEPING THE FAITH: Whittingham explained how the Utes managed to end a four-game skid and win their first game since topping BYU on Sept. 15.

“I think it’s a product of sticking with what you believe in, not panicking, not making wholesale changes and believing in what you’re doing,” he said. “The players believe, the coaches believe, everybody’s bought in. Like I’ve said, just staying the course is the best way to put it and not being too disruptive.”

Whittingham also credits a strong senior class that makes sure things get done the right way and won’t let the team fragment.


Twitter: @DirkFacer