You can just tell he’s in charge of that football team. —Kyle Whittingham
PASADENA, Calif. — As disappointing as last week’s 28-27 loss to Washington State was for the Utah Utes, there’s been little time to dwell on it. The assembly line that is Pac-12 football simply doesn’t allow for it.
“There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves. There’s nothing to do but move forward. You can’t push rewind,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “There is no rewind button in life and so you’ve got to forget about it — but you’ve got to learn from it.”
Whittingham noted the importance of understanding that. He also stressed the need to move forward.
“And we will,” Whittingham said as the Utes (3-1, 0-1) prepare for Saturday night’s game against No. 8 UCLA (4-0, 1-0) at the Rose Bowl.
The Bruins, he summarized, have a ton of talent across the board. Headliners include quarterback Brett Hundley, wide receiver Jordan Payton, running back Paul Perkins, two-way standout Myles Jack, linebacker Eric Kendricks and return specialist/defensive back Ishmael Adams.
Whittingham said that Hundley, a junior, has really fine-tuned his game and is “absolutely a complete quarterback in every sense of the word.” Besides Hundley’s ability to run and throw the ball effectively, Whittingham praised his decision-making and leadership.
“You can just tell he’s in charge of that football team,” Whittingham said.
Hundley enters the Utah game having completed 75-of-104 passes for 1,041 yards. He’s thrown for seven touchdowns and has been intercepted just once. The UCLA starter has 146 yards rushing, averaging 3.9 yards per carry.
It’s a contrast in style from Washington State’s Connor Halliday, who threw for 417 yards against the Utes last week.
“That’s something you have to do,” Utah defensive end Hunter Dimick said of the shift in coverage. “We made adjustments for Halliday and this week we’ll make adjustments for Hundley.”
Other Bruins to watch include Adams (two interceptions and a kickoff return for touchdowns), Kendricks (47 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown), Jack (the 2013 Pac-12 Freshman Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year), Payton (417 receiving yards) and Perkins (441 rushing yards).
UCLA has won six straight games dating back to last season. The Bruins opened up the current campaign with victories over Virginia (28-20), Memphis (42-35), Texas (20-17) and Arizona State (62-27). They’re 23-8 overall in two-plus seasons under head coach Jim Mora.
In last year’s game at Rice-Eccles Stadium, UCLA edged Utah 34-27. The Utes came close despite throwing six interceptions.
“We still had a chance to win, but I know I’ve got to be smarter with the football — got to make smarter decisions,” said Utah quarterback Travis Wilson. “We’ve just got to make sure that we finish out games like we did the first couple games of the season.”
The Utes have never defeated the Bruins in California, losing all six meetings dating back to the first one in 1933. UCLA defeated Utah 21-14 two years ago in Pasadena.
Utah (3-1, 0-1) at UCLA (4-0, 1-0)
Rose Bowl (91,136)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MDT
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