Utah suffered a gut-wrenching 29-26 setback at Florida last Saturday in the season opener at The Swamp.
“Tough, tough loss,” said coach Kyle Whittingham. “But I’ll tell you what, I’m proud of our football team. There are no moral victories. I’m not trying to paint that picture. We’re way past that, but you talk about a group of guys that just compete till the bitter end, they showed toughness, grit and determination. You name it, we showed it. We didn’t get it done. We just came up short.”
The Utes, who dropped from No. 7 to No. 13 in the national rankings, have a lot still to play for this season. Utah remains on target in terms of reaching its postseason goals, as long as it can win games moving forward.
Next up is the home opener Saturday against in-state foe Southern Utah of the Western Athletic Conference.
After a disappointing start, can the Utes put together a winning streak? How will they respond?
“It’s looking at what we did wrong and correcting mistakes. Continuing to work hard,” Whittingham said. “Never change your work habits based on the opponent. You’ve got to prepare the right way. Everybody’s got to be better. I really like this team. This team has a bunch of wins in it this year. We’ll see how far we can take it. One game early in the season is not going to derail that. As long as the leadership stays strong and everyone stays focused — which I don’t see any reason why that wouldn’t happen.”
In case you missed it
The biggest issue that Whittingham wants to fix as the season moves forward is trouble in the red zone.
The Utes were just 4 of 6 on red-zone opportunities.
“Had we been productive in the red zone, we win the game. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Whittingham said. “We were in the red zone six times and we only came away with three touchdowns. That’s not good enough. Conversely, they were in three times and came away with touchdowns all three times. That really was the biggest difference in the game.”
9: Number of receptions by Utah tight end Brant Kuithe in the season opener.
27: Number of missed tackles by Ute defenders against Florida.
106: Rushing yards by Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.
From the archives
- ‘I’m a Chris Curry fan’: Utah coach Kyle Whittingham evaluates running backs play after loss to Gators (Deseret News)
- What are the highest and lowest votes Utah and BYU got in this week’s AP Top 25 poll? (Deseret News)
- This former BYU guard will be transferring to Utah (Deseret News)
- A look at every Utah tie on an NFL roster right now (Deseret News)
- ‘I’ll go to war with this team’: No. 7 Utah disappointed with loss to Florida — but Utes learned a lot about themselves (Deseret News)
- Putting Utah safety R.J. Hubert’s early, big play at The Swamp in perspective (Deseret News)
Comments from Deseret News readers:
From the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat! Poor play calling in spots, poor tackling throughout the game, not making excuses however missed call by the officials at the goal line (imo), very entertaining game to watch and if you’re going to lose a game this is the one to lose.
Utah was the better team.
They should have won this by 10+ points.
Did not panic and went right down to win the game.
For the most part I thought they looked really good. I think they will do very well this year.
Need to work on getting the ball in the end zone from 3 yards out and closer. I saw 18 points they left on the table.
A few defensive plays where I said who is guarding that guy? QB TD run and the two-point conversion to name a couple.
I am sure the coaches will fix these holes and they will get even better like they did last year.
Bummer of a game, but I think it will make them better. Go Utah!
— AZ Blue & Red
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