Utah opened the season with a big challenge at The Swamp against Florida, which resulted in a 29-26 loss.

On Saturday, the No. 14 Utes walloped Southern Utah 73-7 at home. 

Two different weeks, two very different games, two very different outcomes.

Now, Utah (1-1) is settling into the 2022 campaign that continues next Saturday (8 p.m., MDT, ESPN2) when it hosts San Diego State (1-1). The Aztecs lost to Arizona 38-20 then beat Idaho State 38-7.   

“It’s a good game to get behind us and get ready for the next one. Then the season, here we go,” said coach Kyle Whittingham after beating the T-Birds. “It’s on — starting this week. We’ve got San Diego State coming to town. It’s a team that got us last year. We’ve got to be prepared and be ready for that one.”

A year ago, the Utes rallied from a 14-point deficit against SDSU but ultimately fell in triple overtime 33-31 in Carson, California. 

Despite its overwhelming win Saturday, Utah dropped one spot in the Associated Press poll from No. 13 to No. 14. 

Florida, which lost at home to Kentucky Saturday, fell from No. 12 to No. 18. 

In the preseason, Utah was ranked No. 7. During fall camp, Whittingham said rankings this early in the season are meaningless. 

“Whether we’re not ranked or whether we’re high, I don’t care,” he said. “I’m of the opinion that you shouldn’t even have a ranking until a month into the season at the earliest. Probably Week 5 or 6, when you can get some perspective. We don’t pay any attention to that.”

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What Whittingham is paying attention to is how his team can continue to improve. 

“We had some special teams miscues that we’ve got to get fixed. We can’t be kicking the ball out of bounds. Those are things we can’t do if we hope to have the type of season we want to have,” he said.

“We have things to correct, there’s no doubt about that. A game like this is just as valuable for our (second team) as it is for our (first team), getting great evaluation. The second ‘O’ played the entire second half. The first ‘D’ played one series in the second half and it was all twos the rest of the way.”

The Utes held SUU to 85 yards of total offense. Whittingham was pleased by the way the defense played one week after 27 missed tackles against the Gators. 

“The tackling was much better. We know we should have tackled better last week than we did. We did this week, which was great,” Whittingham said.

“I thought the offensive line played well. Defensively, much better against the run. We knew we’d be better this week against the run. The run defense was a 180 from last week. Obviously, the level of competition is different, so you can’t put all your stock in the numbers. You have to watch the tape and see how we did with our fundamentals and techniques and make sure we’re doing all that stuff right. Sometimes things can become masked if you don’t really analyze the film, which we’ll do and make the corrections.”

“All week, we were honing in on physicality and being dominant up front,” said freshman linebacker Lander Barton. “I feel like today we were truly dominant on the front seven.”

Offensively, Utah accumulated 599 yards of total offense.  

“There’s going to be a lot to correct still on film,” said tight end Dalton Kincaid, who caught seven passes for 107 yards against SUU. “We’ll watch film and make those corrections and look toward San Diego State.”

“We came out of the game mostly healthy,” Whittingham said. “We’ve got some guys that are question marks. We’ll take another look at it (Sunday). Otherwise, there was a lot of good stuff.”

San Diego State (1-1) at No. 14 Utah (1-1) 

Saturday, 8 p.m. MDT

Rice-Eccles Stadium 


Radio: ESPN 700