UTAH UTES

#11 Utah Football Preparing For Top 25 Showdown Saturday

Oct 3, 2022, 1:29 PM
Dalton Kincaid - Utah Utes vs. UCLA...
Utah Utes tight end Dalton Kincaid (86) is upended by UCLA Bruins defensive back Stephan Blaylock (4) in thee first quart of the game between Utah and UCLA at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (Deseret News)
(Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY- #11 Utah football is preparing for their first Top 25 showdown of the 2022 season against the #18 UCLA Bruins this Saturday. Head coach Kyle Whittingham was on hand Monday morning for his usual press conference to discuss where the Utes are at, as well as what they are seeing from Chip Kelly and the Bruins.

Who Is UCLA?

UCLA is bit of a hard team to gauge in the lead up to Utah’s game in Los Angeles. They’ve had moments where they have looked really good, and moments where they haven’t looked so great in the first half of the season.

Perhaps their most impressive win of the year so far has come against (at the time) #15 Washington last weekend. The Bruins put together a convincing 4o-32 win against UW that helped to catapult them into the AP Top 25 this week.

According to Whittingham, UCLA is playing some really good football and will present a good challenge for the Utes at the Rose Bowl.

“They are playing extremely well, 5-0,” Whittingham said. “They have a lot of confidence. The quarterback is playing well so it should be a good matchup.”

Whittingham has been particularly impressed by Bruin quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson early on noting he has been playing some of his best football. DTR presents an interesting test for the Utes’ defense who were burned by Anthony Richardson to start the season in Gainesville.

 

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“I see him getting better, and better,” Whittingham said. “He’s playing his best football from my vantage point. Chip has done a really good job developing him- not that he wasn’t good before, but he’s taken it to another level and seems to be very poised. Makes plays, takes care of the ball and again, he’s a dual-threat which is the biggest issue for us.”

As for how facing a quarterback like Richardson early on helps prepare for later dual-threat quarterbacks

“It does help, they are similar as far as their style of play,” Whittingham said. “Arizona State’s guy was pretty athletic as well so we have faced some athletic quarterbacks this year. A lot of things we learned in that game, hopefully will be applied in this game.”

Aside from DTR’s talents both throwing and running the ball at quarterback, UCLA also packs a mean running back in Zach Charnonnet that Utah will have to try and slow down. Whittingham says Charbonnet may be one of the best backs the Utes will face all season if he isn’t outright the best.

“He’s really good,” Whittingham said. “He’s a big, strong back, good vision, has some speed to him. He’s tough, so yeah, if he’s not the best, he’s certainly one of the best in the country this year.”

Improving Utah Football

The Utes put together a very convincing win against Oregon State last weekend, but that doesn’t mean Whittingham doesn’t see things that need tweaking. One thing he did mention is while Utah still has things to work on, Whittingham has been seeing steady improvement week-in and week-out with his group.

 

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As for what specifically will be worked on this week? The run game on offense. The Beavers did a good job according to Whittingham of using their linebackers to be disruptive in the run game- specifically from the offensive line standpoint, and it’s the latest thing we would like to see his group do better in the coming week.

“First of all, Oregon State, their linebackers are very impressive,” Whittingham said. “I think they are all-conference guys. Really the problem we had, not only getting push as you mentioned, but we talked about after the game not getting run-throughs. They did a good job getting through their gaps. Our guys weren’t in the right spots to pick up those run-throughs and so we have to do a better job coaching it, and preparing our guys for that.”

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