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Utah football: Kyle Whittingham says 'it's still early,' no time to panic

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham looks on during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham looks on during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Washington State in Pullman, Wash., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak

SALT LAKE CITY — After his Utes dropped back-to-back conference games, against Washington and Washington State, it was only fair that coach Kyle Whittingham was asked about his team’s mindset — whether his players are succumbing to discouragement, panic and the like.

As far as Whittingham is concerned, despair or panic should be the furthest thing from his players' minds.

“This team has a bunch of tough, high-character guys who work hard," he said. "I certainly hope they are not (discouraged). “It is still early in the season, just four games in. Yeah, we’ve dropped a couple of conference games, but Washington is a heck of a football team and Washington State is a good team as well.

“It is too early in my estimation to have any signs of discouragement show up,” he continued. “No matter what happens on Saturday, you come back Monday and get ready to go and get ready for the next opponent. These guys know that.”

QUARTERBACK REPORT: Quarterback is the most scrutinized of any position on a football team, for good reason, but despite the loss to Washington State, Whittingham remains firmly in support of his chosen signal caller — Tyler Huntley.

“He ran for over 100 yards, exclusive to sacks,” Whittingham said. “He is one of the best runners on our team. He was also 12 for 20 (through the air), with a 60 percent (completion percentage). We probably needed more production out of the throw game, that was maybe the thing we were lacking, but we wanted to come in and establish Zack Moss. We did that with 30 carries.

“(Tyler) took care of the football,” Whittingham continued, “We didn’t turn over the ball one time, and when you don’t turn over the ball you give yourself a chance to win. Tyler did a good job of that.”

FALEMAKA TO RETURN: When Lo Falemaka left the game against Washington State with an injury, from which he wouldn’t return. The fear for many was that he would be out for the remainder of the season.

That is not the case.

“Lo is not out for the season, thankfully,” Whittingham said.

Nick Ford, meanwhile, adequately stepped in as Falemaka’s replacement.

“Nick came in and did a pretty good job at center, no major breakdowns,” Whittingham said. “He has room for improvement, but he came in and got the ball snapped, which is the first thing — getting the ball to the quarterback clean. That was the second game in a row he has filled in nicely.”

SHYNE ON: Backup running back Armand Shyne had arguably his best performance of the season Saturday, running the ball three times for 10 yards. More than the yardage, Shyne look determined and ran hard.

“He is earning more and more playing time. He made the most of the playing time and carries that he got, and gave us some good solid runs,” Whittingham said. “You earn your reps in this program and Armand is starting to emerge. Hopefully he stays on that trajectory.”