Agree with it or disagree with it, that is your choice. But we were aggressive the entire night. —Kyle Whittingham
SALT LAKE CITY — Although not happy with how things turned out, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has no regrets about the late timeout he called in Saturday’s 33-30 loss at Washington. The Huskies moved into scoring position in the 23 seconds after the break and kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired.
“We had good field position and I would have bet my house that they would not have gone the distance on our defense in that amount of time and to maneuver into field goal range,” Whittingham said at the end of a lengthy explanation at his weekly press conference on Monday. “But they did and credit to them. We weren't able to make the play. It was about field position, aggressiveness, betting on our defense to make a play, having the superior kicker and that is what went into it.
“I would do it again, but knowing how it played out I wouldn't because it didn't work. But going into it without any knowledge of how it was going to play out, I would have chosen the aggressive play again and bet in our defense,” he continued. “I have a lot of confidence in those guys. Agree with it or disagree with it, that is your choice. But we were aggressive the entire night.”
Following the game, Washington coach Chris Petersen said he understood what Whittingham was trying to do.
“You have to play aggressive in those situations,” he noted.
UTAH MAN: In the wake of Jim Mora’s firing at UCLA, Whittingham has been mentioned in media reports as a potential candidate for the position.
“I have a ton of interest in the Utah job and that is where my interest lies and that is what I focus on,” he said. “I am one of those guys that doesn’t pay one bit of attention to what is going on outside. Where I am is the most important thing to me and that is how I operate.”
HIGH ON HILL: Whittingham had a lot of praise for ex-Utah assistant and player Jay Hill, who led Weber State to a share of the Big Sky Conference championship.
“He’s a supremely intelligent guy, does things the right way, great motivator. He was just outstanding for us when he was here in his capacity. He played a lot of different roles for us,” Whittingham said. “He coached on offense, defense, special teams and it doesn't surprise me one bit with the success he is having. He is an up-and-coming star in this profession and I think that he is going to go places — not that he isn't in a good spot now — but he is a guy that has a lot of upward mobility.”
GOING BOWLING: Utah can achieve bowl eligibility for the fourth straight year with a win over Colorado Saturday. Senior tight end Harrison Handley explained why the Utes want it so badly.
“It’s a good way to go out with the team. You go and you travel out there, wherever the bowl game might be for a week,” he said. “You get to hang out with all the boys for one last time and treat it like a championship game. Whatever bowl game you go to that’s what we’ve always done.”
The Utes are 10-1 in bowl games under Whittingham.
EXTRA POINTS: Utah will honor its 22 seniors prior to Saturday’s season finale ... Gay continues to lead the nation in field goals made with 25 ... Depth chart changes this week include sophomore Donavan Thompson being listed as the starter at mac linebacker and sophomore Terrell Burgess moving to strong safety as the backup to junior Chase Hansen. Burgess had a team-high eight tackles against Washington ... Sophomore cornerback Julian Blackmon is the lone player in the secondary to start every game this season ... Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the Utes have winning conference records against only four teams — Colorado (4-2), Oregon State (4-2), Stanford (2-1) and UCLA (4-3).