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Despite Injuries, Kyle Whittingham Is Pleased With Utah’s Secondary

USC Trojans wide receiver Drake London (15) is tackled by Utah Utes cornerback Clark Phillips III (8) during a college football game between the Utah Utes and the USC Trojans on October 9, 2021, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – After facing an air raid offense against USC, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was pleased with how his secondary is performing.

Utah was able to limit USC to 26 points despite missing some key players in the secondary and allowing 401 passing yards. When the Utes faced Washington State back on September 25, they lost three safeties to injuries, including Vonte Davis, Cole Bishop and Brandon McKinney.

After the bye week, Whittingham’s defense was able to get Davis back but the other two players were not 100%.

“Still a little beat up back there, we don’t have all the guys at our disposal. You didn’t see Cole Bishop on Saturday, Brandon McKinney was limited,” Whittingham said at his weekly press conference. “[McKinney] played a decent amount of snaps, but he was not 100%. That group needs to continue to perform and I thought they performed pretty good on Saturday, most of the time. Like I said, there’s balls up the field that we feel we should have made plays on.”

‘Clark Phillips’ Best Days Are Still Ahead Of Him’

Super freshman cornerback Clark Phillips III was given the assignment of defending one of the best wide receivers in the country in Drake London. The USC standout had 16 catches for 162 yards and one touchdown. 11 of those catches came in the first half when Phillips wasn’t the primary defender. Things changed when the talented cornerback drew the assignment in the second half, limiting London to just five catches.

Phillips finished with nine tackles, including eight solo tackles and three pass breakups. Whittingham was asked if that was Phillips’ best game as a Ute.

“He’s played some really good games,” mentioned Whittingham. “Clark is still working some technique and fundamental things out that once he gets all that down, he’s going to be even better. He certainly showed up and had a tough assignment. I guess there is an argument for that but he’s had some other really good performances as well. I’d have to take some time to research that to give you a clear-cut answer. Clark did do a good job, we are pleased with what Clark did in that game. We still think that his best days are ahead of him.”

Utah will face No. 18 Arizona State at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday, October 16 at 8 p.m. MT on ESPN.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com, Co-Host of Faith, Family and Football podcast with Clark Phillips III and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.

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