SALT LAKE CITY — “Disappointing … uncharacteristic … by far our worst game of the year.”
Those were among the ways Utah coach Kyle Whittingham described the Utes’ 38-20 loss to Arizona State at his Monday afternoon press conference.
“Obviously a disappointing weekend in Tempe,” Whittingham said. “There are a lot of things we can point to as to why we weren’t successful. On defense, we were very uncharacteristic and had by far our worst game of the year, really our worst game since last year against Oregon as I think back on it. ... Offensively we didn’t get enough done either.”
With the loss, Utah relinquished the driver's seat of the division, falling into a four-way tie with ASU, USC and Arizona for first place in the Pac-12 South. While tiebreakers arguably give the Sun Devils the best odds to come away with the division title, the Utes are still squarely in the fight.
“We are sitting tied for first, I guess you can say, in the South,” Whittingham said. “Something has to happen for us to have a shot, but we are not worried about that right now. There are dozens and dozens of possible scenarios that could happen, so why waste your time worrying about them. We know our task is to try and get a win this week and let the chips fall where they may.”
“Our goals are still the same,” linebacker Francis Bernard added. “We want to win the South and we can still do that. We want to do whatever we need to do to win the South and also the Pac-12, and as long as we take care of Oregon we will have a chance.”
RETURN OF THE LO: Lo Falemaka, a preseason Rimington Trophy candidate, made a brief appearance at left guard against the Sun Devils after missing four games due to injury. The expectation is that he’ll play significantly more against the Ducks.
“You saw him play sparingly during the game. That was by design,” Whittingham said. “He had not had much work during practice at all last week. We didn’t feel that he was prepared to take on much of a load. Now he has been cleared completely for everything.”
THE PROTOTYPICAL BACK: Zack Moss was one of the few bright spots for Utah against ASU.26 comments on this story
“He is the entire package. He is a prototype for this offense.” Whittingham said. “Zack is so tough, so physical, so quick and fast. There are many different types of backs that get it done, but if we had Zack Moss for the next 10 years that would be awesome. That would be ideal.”
As to why Moss wasn't featured more Saturday Whittingham noted, “We only snapped the ball 54 times. When you don’t snap it 70-plus times like usual, everything is going to go down. There was no plan to run him less, it just happened that way.”
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Utes on the air
Oregon (6-3, 3-3)
at Utah (6-3, 4-3)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Radio: ESPN 700AM