Whittingham Proud Of His Team, Complimentary Of Florida
Sep 4, 2022, 1:20 PM
(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
GAINESVILLE- Obviously winning is better than losing, but it’s hard to be too upset if you lose after giving it your all for 60 minutes. That’s what happened to #7 Utah in their season opener against Florida in the Swamp. They gave it everything they had, and came up just short 29-26 in an epic battle in SEC country.
View this post on Instagram
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was in good spirits about his team in his post-game press conference while also acknowledging there are “no moral victories”. What was clear is Whittingham has a deep admiration for his current group of players and sees they are so close to making that next jump. Sometimes a close, heartbreaking loss is just what a team needs to put the pedal to the metal.
“I’m extremely proud of our football team,” Whittingham said. “I know there are no moral victories- I’m not trying to paint that picture. We’re way past that, but when you talk about a group of guys who just compete till the bitter end, show toughness, grit, determination, resolve- you name it they showed it. We just came up short.”
Florida Is Legit
There were a lot of question marks about Florida heading into Utah’s matchup Saturday, but not because of a lack of talent. The questions really stemmed from curiosity about how quickly new head coach Billy Napier could change the culture of a team that was clearly left in shambles last season. The answer appears to be night-and-day different after just one game, although it also helps to play in front of a crowd that is capable of sucking the souls out of their opponents too.
Whittingham has been very complimentary of the Gators from the jump, and after Saturday night’s loss was no different.
“Give credit to Florida,” Whittingham said. “That’s a good football team. The cupboard was not empty when Dan Mullen left. They have some great athletes starting with the quarterback. He’s a terrific player and if he stays healthy, they are going to win a bunch of games this year.”
What Doesn’t Kill You, Makes You Stronger
Utah faired better than most in The Swamp, especially for a first game out where everybody is knocking some rust off. In Whittingham’s estimation he and his staff have a much better idea of where the Utes stand playing a team like Florida than they have some of their other season-opening opponents in the past. That measuring stick makes working on getting better a little easier.
“You can win a game against a lesser opponent and have a bunch of things that are masked because you’re so superior physically and athletically that it hides itself,” Whittingham said. “A game like this will expose everything we’ve got to work on, where our deficiencies are. I don’t regret playing these guys. It was a great opportunity for our university, for our team and it’s not like we were sitting here wondering why we have to play these guys. We were excited to play these guys.”
Utah Utes Scoreboard
Utah Utes Team Leaders
Utah Utes Standings