Utes Head To Northern Illinois For Week 2 Matchup

Sep 5, 2018, 6:28 PM | Updated: Sep 6, 2018, 5:34 pm

DEKALB, Ill. – With the first game against Weber State in the rear view mirror, the Utes turn their attention to Northern Illinois. Although the Huskies play in the MAC conference, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham isn’t looking past them.

“Northern Illinois is a good football team,” Whittingham said to open his Monday press conference. “They are a very physical team, hard-nosed and disciplined. We have a challenge ahead of us.”

The Utes did win their first game of the year in a 41-10 landslide, but it was the defense that really impressed Whittingham about his squad.

“I would say it was a very good defensive effort. Weber played it pretty close to the chest, so there weren’t as many opportunities to get takeaway as there are in some weeks,” he said. “We tackled well. We only missed six tackles which is pretty good in any game, particularly for an opener. We were pleased with what we got.”

The game against Weber State did have it’s not-so-stellar moments for the Utes, as they quickly fell behind 10-0 after a pair of turnovers gave the Wildcats’ offense some short fields to work with. Whittingham stated that a strong start to the game against Northern Illinois will be key to getting a win. In the Huskies’ season-opening loss at Iowa, the Hawkeyes also got off to a slow start, scoring just a field goal through the first two and half quarters en route to a 33-7 final.

“What we need to do is start better,” said Whittingham. “That was something that was obvious on Thursday night, is that we didn’t start very well.”

The scenery for Saturday’s matchup will be a dramatic shift from the Pac-12 stadiums that the Utes are used to playing in as NIU’s Huskie Stadium seats just 24,000. However, Whittingham feels that that shouldn’t make a difference for Utah.

“The players tune out the opposing crowd regardless of where you are at, so that is just something that I don’t think will be a big factor.”

Utah will take on NIU on the road Saturday at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN News. It’s the first visit by a Pac-12 team to Huskie Stadium.

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