Room for improvement

Offensively potent Utah isn't afraid to tinker with system
2009-11-04T00:00:00Z Room for improvementBy ERIC SCHMOLDT - Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

LARAMIE -- More often than not, coaches adhere to the adage "If it isn't broke, don't fix it."

Kyle Whittingham is more of a "Fix it before it breaks" kind of guy.

Whittingham's Utah Utes are off to a 7-1 start, but he switched up his offensive play-callers just prior to Saturday's victory over Wyoming before pulling a similar switcheroo at quarterback, calling on true freshman Jordan Wynn to lead the Utes to a come-from-behind, 22-10 victory.

"Things are going pretty decent -- we're 6-1 going into the game -- but you're always looking for ways to get better," Whittingham said during Monday's Mountain West Conference Football Coaches Teleconference. "If you think you can improve on what you're doing, regardless if you're 6-1 or 1-6, you've got to take that opportunity to try and make improvement."

Both offensive moves were intended to create a spark in the Utes' offense and while UW coach Dave Christensen said he didn't see a great deal of difference in the play-calling or quarterback play, the latter at least appeared to generate some electricity.

Junior quarterback Terrance Cain was 10-of-13 for 121 yards in the first half, but couldn't lead the Utes into the end zone. Wynn was 9-of-14 for 82 yards but helped lead the Utes to their game-winning touchdown.

"Jordan is more of a pocket passer," Whittingham said. "He's got a strong arm, is very accurate, gets the ball out of his hand very quickly, makes quick decisions. That's something that was a negative in the first half [against Wyoming].

"Terrance is an exceptional runner and does a great job. Jordan, that's not one of his strengths."

Whittingham wouldn't reveal which quarterback he is planning to start on Saturday when the Utes host winless New Mexico.

The Utes rank third in the league in scoring, rushing and total offense and fourth in passing offense, but they rank outside the top 35 nationally in each of those categories.

HORNED FROGS KEEP BCS STATUS ON BACK BURNER: TCU coach Gary Patterson has deflected most questions regarding rankings and the BCS up to this point in the season and he's not going to change now.

Neither are his players, who he says have kept an even keel throughout their 8-0 start.

"Around here, [everyone] knows I'm not going to talk very much about it," Patterson said. "And really our kids have been great. They have an atmosphere of being kind of laid back and if they are thinking about it, they haven't said much to me."

SANFORD ISN'T FEELING HOT SEAT: UNLV coach Mike Sanford's seat stayed the same temperature for just one week.

The Rebels finally got him his first conference road victory two weeks ago at hapless New Mexico, but a 41-0 loss at TCU on Saturday warmed it up again. With a game against Colorado State this weekend in which the loser will be out of bowl contention, Sanford -- now 14-43 at UNLV -- isn't sweating it.

"I don't look at pressure from a negative standpoint," he said. "I look at what is perceived as pressure as an exciting position to be in. I look at it as a positive. I'm excited about the opportunity we have, I'm not overwhelmed by pressure."

COUGARS USE BYE WEEK TO REFOCUS: The Cougars have had extra time to try and digest their blowout home loss to TCU two weeks ago.

But while getting some extra preparation time for their game against Wyoming this week, they've also taken time to refocus and re-energize.

"It's been something that has been emphasized, but more importantly something that was asked for by me," BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "I asked the players for that from the standpoint that I don't think we've reached our potential yet.

"I just asked them to acknowledge the time frame remaining with the work to be done and they've responded very well."

Contact sports reporter Eric Schmoldt at Check out his blog at


TUESDAY: The nine football coaches from the Mountain West Conference met with members of the media on their weekly teleconference.

SPARE CHANGE: The Utah Utes are 7-1 and rank amongst the top three in most offensive categories, but changed personnel both on and off the field at play-caller and quarterback.

HE SAID IT: "If you think you can improve on what you're doing, regardless if you're 6-1 or 1-6, you've got to take that opportunity to try and make improvement." -- Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.

SATURDAY'S MATCHUPS: No. 25 BYU at Wyoming, noon, on the mtn.; Army at Air Force, 1:30 p.m., on CBS College; No. 6 TCU at San Diego State, 2 p.m., on VERSUS; New Mexico at No. 17 Utah, 4 p.m., on the mtn.; Colorado State at UNLV, 8 p.m. on the mtn.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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