Kyle Whittingham Very Bullish On Utah Defense Two Games In

Sep 11, 2023, 3:23 PM | Updated: 3:24 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – There was speculation that Utah’s defense could be special and two games into the 2023 season they have shown that speculation could be very real.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham once again gave high compliments to his defensive unit in his Monday press conference after they held Baylor to 13 points in last Saturday’s game. The week before the defense held Florida to just 11 points.

Both efforts helped to give a hampered Utah offense a chance to put those games away despite some struggles.

“Credit our defense for keeping us in the game until that point,” Whittingham said of the Baylor game. “Otherwise, it would have been too little, too late. The defense did a good job keeping points off the board and keeping the game competitive until the offense could get a spark.”

Cole Bishop As Good As Advertised

One player that was generating a lot of buzz for the Utes defensively was safety Cole Bishop and as it turns out for good reason.

So far in 2023 Bishop has accounted for 15 tackles- 12 solo and three assisted. He’s also been a wrecking ball recording a sack, forced fumble, and key interception to help Utah beat Baylor in the waning minutes of last week’s game.

“It was ultimately Cole Bishop’s interception that stopped the drive,” Whittingham said. “It set us up in position to get our last touchdown and just hung on in the end defensively.”

Next Man Up

Because Utah’s defense has been so dominating early in the season, it’s been easy to overlook the fact they have also been going without some key players. Much like on the offensive side of the ball, Whittingham is hoping to get some of those guys back which leads one to wonder- could this defense get any nastier?

“We thought we were going to be pretty good,” Whittingham said. “I think we’ve lived up to expectations. Unfortunately, we have been missing guys- so is everyone in the country to a certain extent. We’ve had our fair share, but nobody cares. We’ve just got a next man up mentality and that was the case.”

Needless to say, it speaks very highly of the depth the Utes have recruited and developed over the years that they can miss guys like Karene Reid and Connor O’Toole and not really miss a beat.

“Levani Damuni stepped up in place of Karene Reid,” Whittingham said. “Sione Fotu gave us some good snaps at linebacker as well. The defensive ends were rotating through and did a nice job. We’re hoping to get Connor back in the next week or two, but that’s the mentality- next man up.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • Utah Utes Scoreboard

  • Utah Utes Team Leaders

  • Utah Utes Standings

Utah Utes


Michelle Bodkin

Three Takeaways From Utah’s Injury-Plagued Loss To Oregon State

The injuries and anemic offense finally caught up to Utah as they suffered their first loss of the 2023 season to Oregon State.

7 hours ago


Michelle Bodkin

Kyle Whittingham Reveals Bryson Barnes Is In Hospital After Big Hit

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham revealed backup quarterback Bryson Barnes has been hospitalized after a big hit against Oregon State.

8 hours ago

Utah Football Oregon State Beavers QB Nate Johnson...

Michelle Bodkin and Chandler Holt

Utah Football Suffers First Loss Of Season To No. 19 Oregon State Beavers

The Utah Utes football team fell to 4-1 with a road loss to the No. 19 Oregon State Beavers in Reser Stadium on Friday.

9 hours ago

Thomas Yassmin Utah Utes Football Oregon State Beavers...

Chandler Holt

Thomas Yassmin Puts Utah On Board Against Oregon State In Fourth

Utah tight end Thomas Yassmin rumbled into the end zone in the fourth quarter for the Utes' first touchdown of the game.

9 hours ago

Utah Utes Cole Bishop Junior Tafuna Bronko Nagurski Trophy...

Chandler Holt

Cole Bishop Pulls Down Fourth-Quarter Interception Against Oregon State

Cole Bishop gave Utah some much-needed momentum in the fourth quarter with an interception on Oregon State QB DJ Uiagalelei.

9 hours ago

Cam Rising - Utah Utes vs. Oregon State 2...

Michelle Bodkin

Utah Utes Vs. Oregon State Beavers Score Prediction, Game Day Storylines

The No. 10 Utah Utes kick off against the No. 19 Oregon State Beavers this week which means it’s time for storylines and a game prediction.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.

ksl sports logos...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.

Kyle Whittingham Very Bullish On Utah Defense Two Games In