SALT LAKE CITY — In the wake of Friday's 27-20 overtime loss to Utah State at Romney Stadium, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that the Utes had some things to work on before this week's Rivalry Game against 25th-ranked BYU.
The to-do list is quite extensive.
"We need to do everything. We need to re-examine everything we're doing and work harder in all areas, all phases — coaches, players, everybody," Whittingham said. "This will show us a lot about who we are and what we're made of because it doesn't get any easier from here. It doesn't get any easier from this point forward."
After closing out non-conference play with the Cougars (2-0), the Utes embark upon their second season in the Pac-12. They'll kick things off with a game at Arizona State on Sept. 22. The Sun Devils are now 2-0 following a 45-14 win over Illinois on Saturday.
The Utes then have a bye week before a showdown with league favorite USC on Thursday, Oct. 4, at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The challenges continue the following weeks with road games at UCLA and Oregon State. The Bruins (2-0) defeated Nebraska 36-30, and the Beavers (1-0) upset Wisconsin 10-7 on Saturday.
Utah closes out its conference slate with home games against California (Oct. 27), Washington State (Nov. 3) and Arizona (Nov. 17) and road dates at Washington (Nov. 10) and Colorado (Nov. 23).
Arizona may prove to be the biggest challenge down the stretch. The Wildcats (2-0) overpowered Oklahoma State 59-38 late Saturday.
With so many tests ahead, the Utes (1-1) are determined to get things right after the disappointing performance in Logan.
Senior quarterback Jon Hays, who stepped in for the injured Jordan Wynn midway through the USU game, acknowledged the scene in the locker room was "definitely devastated" when it was over.
Even so, Hays said there was also some resolve: "We've got to bounce back."
Utah's bid to do so will require a much stronger showing by the offense. The Utes didn't score any points against the Aggies until Coleman Petersen connected on a 42-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
Running back John White said the situation was horrible.
"We've just got to be ready and be more prepared — stop all the mental errors and just fight and execute out there as an offense because the defense is going to take care of their part," he said.
DeVonte Christopher, who led Utah with six receptions against USU, may have identified the problem.
"I don't really have a real reason as to why we were struggling besides we weren't executing. That's the main thing," Christopher said. "We came out and didn't execute. We didn't score any points. We didn't put ourselves in position to kick field goals. We were just flat."
The defense also vows to be more pumped up in the future.
"We've got to play harder I guess," said linebacker Trevor Reilly. "I think they out-toughed us. They outplayed us."
The Utes, he continued, need to watch more film, play harder and prepare better.
Injury updates on Wynn (shoulder), safety Eric Rowe (hamstring) and others are expected Monday. The quarterback situation is somewhat settled with Hays and freshman Travis Wilson ready to step in for Wynn.
"I always prepare to be the starter," Hays said, "So that's what I'm going to do."
EXTRA POINTS: This is the last BYU-Utah game scheduled for Rice-Eccles Stadium until 2016 . . . Defensive end Joe Kruger, who was ejected from the USU game, will not face an additional suspension because his penalty was considering "striking" and not "fighting." … The Utes are 56-31-4 in homecoming games, including a 30-21 win over BYU in 1968.