What’s the next barrier for Utah football to break down? Kyle Whittingham has an answer
The Utah football coach talked about the expectations surrounding his program during an appearance on ‘The Jim Rome Show’
Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham is no stranger to breaking down barriers.
Whittingham, college football’s second-longest tenured head coach at the FBS level, has turned the Utes into a perennial contender in the Pac-12 Conference and a team that’s become accustomed to being ranked among the country’s Top 25 teams.
That was capped by a pair of program firsts last year: winning the Pac-12 and playing in the Rose Bowl.
Now, Utah’s 18-year head coach understands the expectations surrounding his team, as the Utes head into the 2022 season as the favorite to win the conference and ranked No. 7 in the preseason Associated Press poll, a program high.
“We’ve talked a lot about that since January,” Whittingham said during an appearance on “The Jim Rome Show” on Tuesday. “We’ve got to be able to handle success and it’s harder to stay on top than to get to the top.
“Our M.O. typically has been to be a little bit under the radar and play that underdog role. That’s not the case this year, and we’ve got to manage that.”
Whittingham said his team isn’t shying away from the spotlight of being one of the nation’s top teams heading into the season while also earning mention as a College Football Playoff contender.
“I think that shows respect for our program and our players,” Whittingham said. “We’re not hiding from that. We don’t see that as a negative, as long as we don’t get caught up in it and understand that the only way we’re going to win games this year is through sheer hard work and doing things the right way.
“If you talk about taking that next step, for our program it is trying to get in the CFP and breaking down that barrier.”
Here are three other top quotes from Whittingham’s appearance on the show.
On the season opener at Florida
“It was an opportunity for a home and home against a team with a national brand. That’s good for our program. We have a fairly large number of players on our football team from Florida — they’re in our recruiting footprint down there.
“It’s a tough opener, we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
On quarterback Cameron Rising’s leadership
“He’s just got that it factor, and that’s something you can’t coach. It just comes naturally.
“He has complete command of the offense, complete respect of his teammates, and he leads by example. He’s a guy that has that rare ability to make those around him better.”
On the next step for the offense
“For us to take the next step, we’ve got to make more explosive plays from the outside, from the wide receiver position.
“We’re running the ball effectively, we’ve got an outstanding pair of tight ends, the offensive line is solid. But if we’re going to take the next step in our evolution, it’s got to be big plays from the wide receiver position, and that’s what we’re gearing towards.”