UTAH UTES

Whittingham Expecting More From Utes’ Red Zone Offense

Nov 12, 2018, 4:12 PM
Utah Utes quarterback Jason Shelley (15) and offensive lineman Lo Falemaka (69) celebrate after She...
Utah Utes quarterback Jason Shelley (15) and offensive lineman Lo Falemaka (69) celebrate after Shelley scored, putting the Utes up 10-0 over the Oregon Ducks after the PAT, during the game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Even though the Utah Utes beat Oregon 32-25 last Saturday, head coach Kyle Whittingham was disappointed in his team’s inability to punch the ball into the end zone.

“It went right down to the wire due to our red zone inefficiency,” said Whittingham. “I think if we would have been efficient in the red zone, it wouldn’t have been close.”

Expecting to get touchdowns when the Utes are inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, they converted just twice in six such opportunities against Oregon. According to Whittingham, the reason for that may have been a conservative attitude that came with putting redshirt freshman Jason Shelley, who has been serving as the backup all season, in under center.

“In hindsight, we probably should have gone a little more to the perimeter and should have thrown it down there some,” said Whittingham. “But with a first time starting quarterback, you don’t want to turn the ball over down there, so that was the reason for being conservative.”

Although he admitted that the play-calling may have been on the safe side with Shelley at QB, Whittingham was impressed with Shelley’s play.

“His poise and composure. The moment wasn’t too big for him. He was able to function just like he is in practice. He is unflappable in practice and that is how he was on Saturday afternoon.”

With another week of practice against the Utah defense, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation in red zone defense, it’s not unreasonable to think that Shelley will improve his comfort level close to the goal line. So far this year, Utah has allowed just 13 touchdowns on 31 opponent chances in the red zone. The Utes’ opponent this week, Colorado has allowed 17 TDs on 35 opponent opportunities inside the twenty.

The No. 21-ranked Utes and the Buffaloes will kick off Saturday from Boulder at 11:30 a.m. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.

 

 

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