SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It was as bad of a beatdown as a Kyle Whittingham team has ever suffered, and the timing couldn’t have been worse with ESPN GameDay in town.
The Utes suffered its worst home loss in 13 years, getting blown out by the now 6th-ranked Oregon Ducks, 35-6.
“Our players are very prideful,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham Monday. “They’re smart, they get it, they know they didn’t play particularly well last week, and they know that’s an understatement.”
But the old adage is, they can’t get beat twice by the same team, and the Utes have to regroup before Arizona State comes to town this Saturday.
“We’ve got to move on, we’ve got to put it behind us and flush that one, and respond, which is what it’s all about,” Whittingham said. “
The Utes typically do respond after a loss. They haven’t lost two in a row in over two years. But the offense really struggled against Oregon, failing to score a touchdown at home for the first time since 2015 and ending an 18-game home winning streak. But Whittingham isn’t going to blame quarterback Bryson Barnes or the run game. He’s putting it on the coaches.
“I’m not going to in any way, shape or form, blame my players,” he said. “They played hard, never quit from snap one to the very end. We as coaches have to do a better job of creating better matchups and better schematics.”
A lot of the 18th-ranked Utes struggles on both sides of the ball had to do with just how good Oregon really is. The Ducks aren’t just a Pac-12 championship contender, they may be in the College Football Playoffs when all is said and done.
“Oregon is one of the elite defenses in the league,” Whittingham said. “They had a lot to do with our ineptness and our inefficiency.”
Barnes is still the starter at quarterback, despite throwing for just 137 yards and two interceptions against Oregon. But that’s not to say if he struggles again, we couldn’t see Brandon Rose or Nate Johnson.
“Whoever gives us the best chance to win is who we’ll trot out there,” Whittingham said. “If Brandon becomes that guy, then yes, that will happen. But right now, Bryson Barnes is our guy.
If the Utes are going to 3-peat as Pac-12 champions, they have to win their final four games against Arizona State, Washington, Arizona and Colorado, then get some help.
“We’d have to have some big-time help to get back in the championship game,” Whittingham said. “But we needed it last year, and we got it. So, never say never.”
Utah and Arizona State will kick off at noon this Saturday, November 4th at Rice-Eccles Stadium.