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July 26, 2013

Kyle Whittingham


THE MODERATOR:  I would like to welcome Utah.  We have Coach Kyle Whittingham, tight end Jake Murphy and defensive end, Trevor Reilly.  Coach?
COACH WHITTINGHAM:  Great to be here.  We're excited to get the season started after a disappointing season last year, missed a Bowl game for the first time in a lot of years.  It was foreign to us, and we didn't like it at all.  I got a bunch of texts from our players how disappointed they were not being there and how they didn't want that to happen again.  Hopefully we will get our deficiency says corrected and we have had some changes, brought on Dennis Erickson to jump‑start the season, and if you look at our game last year, the offense end throws, and the defense we had some issues with, and we are excited this year.
We feel like we are ready this year.  We knew going into the Pac‑12 was going to be a challenge and a work in progress.  We feel we have had two outstanding recruiting classes back‑to‑back, hopefully that will start to manifest this year.  I got to tell you having the Pac‑12 logo on our sleeves and the BCS conference affiliation, the vast majority we signed we would not have had a chance at getting had we not been in that situation.
Everything is ramped up.  We finished the new facility, moved into it last week, 150,000 square feet; the old one was 130 or thereabouts.  So a lot of things happening and we're excited to get the season underway and get back on track and win ballgames like we're used to.

Q.  Kyle, what did the year of learning on the job, what did that do for your quarterback, Travis Wilson?
COACH WHITTINGHAM:  Well, one of the issues we have had the last few seasons‑‑ we have had some pretty good years, with the exception of last year, but we have not been able to start and finish a season with the same quarterback for four straight years, that's been a definitely, Brian Johnson was the last quarterback that we had that was able to do that.  So we have to get consistency there, Travis Wilson we hope is going to bring that to us, 6‑6, 245 pounds, big kid.  We feel he's made tremendous strides.  We got him in January of 2012 as a true freshman.  He was about 200 pounds then; he's made progress in the last 18 months physically and mentally.  And right now he's our guy, and we're expecting him to be a leader for us.  He did end up starting the last six or seven ballgames last year, got good experience.  But we need him to hit the ground running this fall and be a leader for our offense and for the football team.

Q.  Coach, how does it make you feel as a coach to see previous players like Eric Weddle prosper and do you guys talk?
COACH WHITTINGHAM:  Makes me feel great, Eric Weddle is one of the top players that has come through our program in the last five, ten years and we talk regularly, regularly being a couple times a month.  Proud of what he's accomplished and we're proud of the number of players that we have put in the NFL.  We're fourth or fifth in the Pac‑12 as far as current players on NFL rosters and that's important to us and we take pride in that.
Eric is as good of a football player as he is he's an even better person and that's something I can say without hesitation, and he's given back to the program and been a grade ambassador for us.  One thing Coach Erickson said, he's been with us for about six months now and he said we have a special thing in Utah with our alumni and players wanting to come back and give back to the program and have a great feeling forward the program after they leave and he put some perspective on that for me because I've been at Utah for about 20 years and don't have a good perspective on that issue.  Eric has done a great job of sticking with the program and giving back and being pardon of what we're doing.

Q.  We have a fan question for you, Coach, from Facebook.  You addressed what the Pac‑12 meant for your recruiting process but he specifically wants to know who do you think you were able to land?
COACH WHITTINGHAM:  There three‑quarters of the guys we've signed in the last two years, Jeremiah Poutasi, Kelvin York that had BCS offers from other division one programs and the list goes on.  I can say relative to recruiting in the last 10, 12 years there is no question it's been a‑‑ there has been a huge spike in our recruiting in the last two classes and I attribute it to the Pac‑12 affiliation.

Q.  Coach, last year you talked about the line and the line backers being a big area of concern going into the season.  What are those areas of concern going into this one?
COACH WHITTINGHAM:  Without a doubt, the two main areas are quarterback and specialist.  We are rebuilding the quarterback position.  We play a lot of three‑corner defensive schemes, a nickel package‑type schemes and the three corners that played for us last year were all seniors and they played 95% of the snaps during the course of the season so it's a complete rebuild at the corner position.  We have a lot of talented players in the program at that position but very few have played any snaps in the Division I games.
So that's an area of concern and as much "man" defense as we play and as much as our defense success hinges on that, that's got to be an area that gets up to speed quickly in fall camp and early in the season.
We lost our punter, place kicker, our long snapper and our kick‑off guy and our return guy, Reggie Dunn who was among the top in the nation for kick‑off returns, and we've got to reload in those positions and those are by far the groups on the team that we have to address and take care of immediately.
THE MODERATOR:  All right, gentlemen, thank you for your time.

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