Utah Utes News: Postgame Quotes: No. 23 Utah vs. No. 3 Oregon

11/20/2021

Utah Head Coach Kyle Whittingham

On the win over Oregon …
“I’m extremely proud of our guys from start to finish. Excellent execution and physicality. They just weren’t going to be denied tonight and it started with a great week of practice. They had the right mindset, and it was great to see them go out and play the way they did. Just a great game for us.”

“Those two touchdowns we scored at the end of the first half were really critical for us. That gave us a ton of momentum going into halftime and it was a tough situation for them coming out of half down 28-0. I’d say that was really the biggest portion of the game.”

On Oregon punting to Britain Covey at the end of the first half …
“The alternative would be to kick out of bounds I guess. But Covey is a dangerous guy and I know I’d think twice about kicking to him. We had a block on too. It wasn’t like we had a return set up. We had a full-on block. He did most of that on his own. He got some key blocks along the way, but it was not set up as a return.”

On becoming the all-time winningest coach at Utah …
“I’ll keep deflecting because that’s what I’m good at, but I just feel blessed. That’s a lot of years and a lot of hard work, and a lot goes into that. With some other sports, you can pretty much do it all as the head coach. In football, it is impossible. You have to surround yourself with great people. Fortunately, we’ve been able to do that the last 17 years. I’ve had some outstanding assistant coaches come through here. The staff we have now is terrific and it starts with great players. We have recruited and developed so many of those guys who have come through here and contributed to this.”

On Tavion Thomas becoming the all-time single season touchdowns leader at Utah …
“It says he has a nose for the end zone. He’s a big, physical back and that’s where he really becomes a weapon is down in the red zone. He gets close to that goal line, he isn’t going to be denied.”

On rushing for over 200 yards against Oregon …
“That’s a talented group they have over there. That’s a good football team, but we did a nice job of running the football. The offensive line was outstanding. No turnovers again for us. That’s been a huge part of our success in recent weeks is taking care of the football.”

On the play of the defense …
“They did an outstanding job. Oregon only got 63 yards rushing. They came in here averaging about 231 per week. That was the primary objective of this game was to stop the run, and we felt if we did that we had a good chance for a good outcome.”

On the uniforms honoring the USS Salt Lake City …
“It was awesome. The players loved them and they were excited to wear them. Under Armour did a great job designing them. The helmets were outstanding. For a college-age young man to get a uniform that they are excited about, that gives you a lift. It was part of the juice that we had out there tonight.”

On winning the Pac-12 South title …
“So proud of our guys. We were sitting there 1-2 after our three non-conference games and kind of wondering who we were. We had figured out Cam had provided a spark because even though we lost that third game, he gave us an instant energy. Between what Cam has done, how he has progressed and the offensive line play, that’s really been the biggest keys to turning this thing around.”

#0 Devin Lloyd

On Kyle Whittingham becoming the winningest coach in the history of Utah Football…
“Really just humbled to be on this team and accomplish such a great accomplishment. Coach is the best coach in Utah Football history, he deserves everything and that’s coach’s win. I mean, I can’t really say enough about these guys. You know, Covey is sitting right next to me, everybody on the team, everybody just believes in one another and loves one another and I just can’t say enough about everybody and this win today.”

On how much the 2019 game against Oregon affected today…
” It was definitely on our minds, but this is a completely different team than the 2019 team so obviously it still hurts. We still have that nasty taste in our mouths, but we were completely confident in this game. Going into it, we understood that it was in the past.”

On if the game plan was to stop the run…
” Ya for sure. We are both teams who pride ourselves on running the ball and being physical at the line of scrimmage, so it was a battle of the trenches. We emphasized that all week and we kind of preached that whoever wins the trenches was most likely going to win the game.”

On not needing to pull out all the tricks…
“Defensively, our biggest thing was owning the line of scrimmage. We weren’t going to switch up our scheme or do anything special. We are just going to play our ball, our Utah football to the best of our abilities. We accomplished that so whenever we do see them, we’re going to do the same thing.”

On what it’s like playing behind Junior…
“He’s the kind of guy that just keeps getting better everyday and it starts at practice. His passion for the game is unmatched. He loves the game, he loves being out there with everybody and it’s just a pleasure to see him continue to progress and keep all we do at stake. I mean, I am just really glad to see all his hard work come to fruition.”

#18 Britain Covey

On Kyle Whittingham becoming the winningest coach in the history of Utah Football…
“It’s really cool to be a part of it because there are a lot of players that have come and gone and contributed to that. You interview Coach Whitt about that and the first thing he’ll do is deflect all of the credit. He’ll talk about his staff and the players that have gone through, but what he has done is unbelievable. I don’t think people realize how much a part of the program, or the identity of the program, we owe to him. So yeah, as they say, coach Whittingham is pretty good.”

On the quarter? Time…
” Well, I’ve told coach Whitt before that if a team is trying to run out the clock at the end of the half and we have timeouts, call them so that we can get a shot. We had 11 seconds left and a couple guys on the sideline came up to me and said you’re not down, and so I went back there, looked at the north end zone and just went like this “What are you going to do?”. What’s really cool is if you go look at that film, it looks exactly like practice. I’ve got about 6 guys finishing through the goal line with me at full speed. I wouldn’t have had that if it weren’t for Micah Bernard’s block, Solomon Enis’ block, Kamo’i Latu’s blocks, Connor O’toole turning around and goes for the punter, coming backwards. It’s just like practice. It’s not me. It’s that unit. That unit is special and it’s because we believe in what we can do.”

On the mentality that allowed the offense to not back down…
“That’s been our mentality for about 6 weeks now and it’s Coach Ludwig’s philosophy. It’s pretty oldschool, but if you’ve got a team that buys into it, it works. It’s “we run the ball, even if you know we are going to run the ball. We run the ball until you’ve come to stop us and then we’ll be a great play action pass team,” and so, I think it’s just getting the guys to buy into what we are doing, and the last 6 weeks we really bought into it. It’s just cool to see it come to fruition.”

On Andy’s play calling…
“I thought it was great. I thought he did a great job with the situational work, especially with our third downs. Our third down conversion rate, the second half of the season compared to the first half, is one of the keys to success that we’ve had and I think that is attributed to Coach Ludwig’s good play calling on third down. I’m glad that we ran the ball a lot more in the second half, but I am glad that we didn’t back down and that we didn’t run the clock out, and play conservative. We were still pushing forward and trying to win the game.”

On Tavion’s accomplishment…
“I talked to Tavion after the second game because he was pretty down and I basically said “remember how you feel right now because you’re going to be on top once again and you’re going to be on bottom once again and it’s just understanding and trusting who you are.” We saw it. We would go home and I would tell my parents, ” Tavion’s going to be special,” and I think all of us helped him know that we still trusted him after those first couple games, or those first 3 games, with fumbles and things, because we saw who he was day in and day out, so it was really cool to see.”

On maybe seeing Oregon again…
” I think that we probably angered them. I don’t know what else, I think that if we see them in a couple weeks, we know we’ll be seeing a different team, on a different playing field without the crowd. But they’re a team that just wants vengeance. We’re going to be prepared when that time comes.”

On not needing to pull out all the tricks…
“We go into that second game and it’s going to be, you know, it’s nice not having to pull out all the tricks and stuff. It’s going to be the exact same run around the ball until you stop us and we are going to be a great play action pass team. So, that’s what’s cool about the identity is that it doesn’t change week in and week out.”

On special teams…
” I think special teams is all about belief. The reason, you know, I think we’re the number one punt return unit team in the country and it’s because we believe and we’ve seen what we can do. It really is the unit, not the returner. It’s the unit. Same thing back in 2014, it’s the unit. I remember that was the first thing I really understood with special teams was when they talked about clay the year before, it was the unit they were talking about. People fear us, people are scared of us and I thought that was really cool that it was literally its own facet of the game and I think that it comes with some ownership and we’ve done that. We’ve owned up to our mistakes. And, you know, it’s another facet of the game. Offense, defense, special teams. It’s another team.”

#7 Cameron Rising

On today’s win…
“It was a great team win. The guys did an unreal job upfront. They blocked their rear ends off. It was fun to be a part of.”

On what it was like to go against a physical Oregon team…
“We talked about being physical all week and we really wanted to set the tone up front and I think they did that up there. That’s why we were so successful”

On Brant’s play…
“We came out and started running the ball pretty hard and they started to load the box so we had to switch it up and run the play action and it worked to a T”

On only having to throw the ball 18 times…
“It’s a lot about those guys up front and how they blocked. Especially if you look in the tight end room, they do an unbelievable job. It speaks volumes to what they’re doing and that we are so effective running the ball and that’s why we’re so good with it.

#9 Tavion Thomas

On his record…
“I just try to go in the game just to play and to play for my brothers. A special part of me, my mom, was here today and it played a big role to me and the team. We just got to keep working. The job ain’t done yet.”

On playing a team that stops the rush…
“I would say our offensive line did their job today. They made it easy to see the holes, read, trust my instincts and just go.”

Oregon Quotes

Head Coach Mario Cristobal

On score at half…
“We’ve been really good at responding, but tonight as an organization, we didn’t respond and we let it snowball instead. We have always been resilient, we have always had a response, we’ve done it this year, we’ve done it in previous years and we did not do it tonight.”
On running the ball…
“We weren’t as efficient on first downs as we had been, then we had a field goal blocked early and then we missed another field goal after that…They were running the ball well, we weren’t, we didn’t fit things particularly well tonight, we didn’t tackle particularly well and they blocked well, they ran the ball well and it’s as simple as that.”

On injured players and tonight’s game…
“We are disappointed, but we still have a lot to play for in seven days, and we have to get going. We have to asses it, dissect it, find out all the things we didn’t do well, then attack and like grown men, face it.”

On fourth quarter defense…
“We extended a couple of drives and then offensively we didn’t do a good enough job of sustaining drives and that gave the defense a chance to recover. So that combination was not a real good one.”

#0 Seven McGee, Running Back
On drives during the first half…
“It was very tough. We had a few good drives and let it slip out of our fingers and that was that.”

On short drives being limiting…
“I wouldn’t say it was limiting, they played well on defense.”

On missing some players (due to injury) …
“It was tough, but I would say it’s something we can handle. We’re working on it.”

#32 Jordan Happle, Safety
On defense exhaustion…
“I didn’t really think it was that much time, its hard to notice during the game. They played a really good game on offense, defense and special teams and next week we just need to come back and play better.”

On Cameron Rising as quarterback…
“He’s a really good quarterback and so is their entire offense and their receivers. Just all around they played a really good game. It was just execution and physicality.”

COURTESY UTAH ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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