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Kyle Whittingham, Utah Utes Head Football Coach

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
December 6, 2022 8:30 pm

Kyle Whittingham, Utah Utes Head Football Coach

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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December 6, 2022 8:30 pm

Kyle Whittingham joined Zach to discuss his emotions after beating USC to repeat as Pac-12 champions and if Cam Rising could return for the 2023 season. 

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Available now on the Odyssey app, or wherever you get your podcasts. We continue this exact Yelp show coast to coast on CBS Sports Radio. Utah back-to-back Pac-12 champions after their victory on Friday night up against USC. The Utes are off to the Rose Bowl once again, where they have a date with the Penn State Nittany Lions. And now joining us is the coach of the back-to-back Pac-12 champion, Utah Utes and Kyle Whittingham. Coach, first off, congratulations.

Appreciate the time. I would ask you how you're doing, but I think I know the answer to that one. Well, yeah, we're in a pretty good situation right now, but all these challenges ahead. Next up is the Rose Bowl, as you mentioned, and a big challenge in Penn State. Good football team, and we're going to have to be at our best. I talked to you before the start of the season about what last year meant to you. How do you put it into words now, or what it means to go back-to-back as Pac-12 champs? Well, I think that speaks to the consistency of our program, and we were all season long, off season long I should say, since January, talking about how it's tougher to stay on top than it is to get to the top. And that was our challenge, and last year we got to the top finally after a lot of hard work and efforts. And to be able to repeat, I think, just speaks to the toughness and resiliency and talent level of our players and coaching staff. We've got a great assistant coaching staff here, and to be able to sustain that success and build on it from last year was huge for our program. Obviously a joyous occasion after the game, but what was the scene like in your locker room if you had to describe it for us?

It was crazy. I mean, the guys were excited. Because going in, we felt like not many people were giving us a chance. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Trojans were going to the playoffs and Caleb was going to win the Heisman, which still may happen.

Who knows? He's a heck of a quarterback. But we just felt that maybe we were getting a little bit, I don't want to say slighted, but nobody really thought that we had a chance to win that thing. And so when we actually got it done, our players were very excited about that. And as you know, you guys beat them earlier in the year. You were down by 14, you came back, you won the game. This time, once again, down by 14.

This time around, you blew them out. What really changed defensively after going down 17-3? Well, we had a couple of blown assignments in the first quarter, blown coverages in particular that led to a couple scores. And once we settled in and got our feet on the ground and got our composure back in that second quarter, we played lights out the rest of the way. And so never really panicked and Coach Scali and his staff on defense did a phenomenal job with the game plan. It was a game plan to bring pressure and we brought it to 60% or more during that game, which is about double our usual average.

And so it ended up paying dividends, but really it was just a matter of getting the defense settled in and stop making those mental errors and playing assignment sound football. Kyle Whittingham here with us. What is there to say at this point about your quarterback in Cam Rising? Because I love watching him play week in and week out.

You and me both. He's tough as nails, first of all. His toughness is second to none.

His leadership is second to none. The it factor, the field general mentality that he has is all exactly what you look for in a quarterback. And it's really exemplified by that hit he took in that game. I mean, he got popped and helmet flew off and, you know, jumped back on his feet, smiling and ready to go. And that really is who he is. I mean, he's just a competitive kid and, you know, he's a guy that gives you everything he's got every single week. Coach, it was like a scene from a movie. His hair was flowing. He got back up in a half second.

I couldn't believe that he got up that quickly. I know. But like I said, he's a unique kid and the players love him and respect him. He's our team leader without a doubt.

And that was just one example why. Is there a chance he's back next year? We hope so. You know, we're having those conversations and we want what's in Cam's best interest and, you know, doing all the right, taking all the right measures and steps to find out, you know, what draft status would be. And, you know, weighing the pros and cons. And obviously, ultimately, it's up to him and his family.

But we're all collaborating right now and trying to determine what is best for him. How do you think his game projects to the next level? Like, what would you say to NFL teams if they ask you about your quarterback?

I would say it projects very well. I think he's underrated. Now, it's hard to say because, you know, he's in QBR. He's in the top 10 in the nation and won a bunch of games here. But I still don't think he's getting the recognition that he deserves.

And there's been talk if he does come back, you know, putting on a Heisman campaign for him to try to give him some notoriety and, you know, elevate his draft status. You said underrated about your quarterback. I know you're going to hate this question when talking about yourself.

But once you win that game for the second year in a row, everyone's tweeting Kyle Whittingham, most underrated coach in the country, top 10, top five coach in the sport. Do you sense that or is it like, OK, you're going to just tell me you don't care? You know, I don't.

I really don't. I just go about my business trying to do what's best for our team and our players. And college football is all about players. It's not about coaches. It's not about, you know, who's this coach and ranked where. It's all about the players. They're the ones out there making the plays and putting on the show.

And that's what I'm all about is making sure that we do everything in our program that's in our players' best interest. Coach, you've been at Utah since 1994, the head coach since 2005. You're 63 years old. By the way, happy belated birthday. I know you're under contract. Thank you. But how much longer do you plan on doing this thing?

That's a great question. Right now, I'm as passionate, as energized as I've ever been. And so I think, well, I'm hoping, I shouldn't say I think, but I'm hoping that I'll know when the time is right.

And one thing I don't want to do is overstay. You know, you see oftentimes coaches just stay a little bit too long and ending on not a real positive note. So I don't want to be that guy. But right now, I'm very excited about what we've got going on and the direction we're heading. Well, keep doing what you're doing the last two years, coach.

I don't think that's going to be a problem. All right. Well, we'll try. We're giving it our best shot, trust me. You've seen him now twice. I know he's going to be a finalist in New York. We'll see him later in the week here in New York City.

Kyle Winningham here with us. I'm talking about the quarterback, Caleb Williams of USC. Just what are your impressions after seeing him twice? Tremendous player.

I mean, we've obviously got two firsthand looks at him. One of the toughest quarterback to sack we've ever come across. Now, we did get to him seven times in this last game, but his mobility wasn't what it usually is as the game progressed. But you talk about a guy that can sense the rush, move around in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield and escaping up the middle, out to the edges. I mean, he's got a myriad of ways that he can extend the play. And the real strength that he has is once he does extend it, he finds receivers downfield. Because like I said, he keeps his eyes downfield.

And if there's nothing there, I don't know how fast he is, but he's got to be four or five or better. He can really pick him up and put him down when he takes off and ripped off a couple of really long runs versus us in the two games that we played him. So, I think he's terrific.

And if he wins the Heisman, I would think that would be very deserving. What was your reaction when you saw that he put on his nails, F Utah, when you saw that? I don't pay attention to that stuff. It's not my style or our style, but judge not.

So, whatever. Kyle Wittingham here with us. Back to Backpack, 12 champions, the head coach of the Utah Utes. The Rose Bowl, give me your first thought once again in this game.

I know opt-outs are always a concern, but it seems like that's not an issue with your program. Well, Penn State's a good football team. Haven't had a lot of time to dive into the tape yet, but I know they've had a couple of really good freshman running backs. Each of them nearing 1,000 yards.

I think one's 900-something, one's 800-something. Physical style football. They play good defense. It reminds me a lot of our program, their approach and how they play solid defense and run the football effectively.

So, I think there's a lot of similarities between the two programs. I love Penn State's athletic director, Pat Kraft, maybe the guy that went to Temple University, but my producer is right now coach wearing a Penn State shirt. I don't like to see my producer happy, so make him miserable on the second, alright? We'll do our best. We will do our best. Last thing I'll ask you, Deion Sanders coming into the Pac-12, what do you think this means for the conference?

Yeah, that's a good question. I mean, obviously it just happened, and so I'm not sure what my take is on it. All I know is he was wildly successful at Jackson State and got things turned around right away there and had a terrific run. Coach Prime, what more can you say? I'm sure he's going to be very popular on the recruiting trail, and it's all about getting the right players in the program.

Recruiting is 80% of your success in college football, and I'm fairly certain that he'll do a good job in that area, so we'll have to see what happens. Has it hit you yet? Is this starting to sink in, what you guys have accomplished the last two years? A little bit.

It's still not completely. We're still knee-deep in recruiting and trying to get ready for the bowl game, and it never stops. There's rarely an opportunity you can sit back and take a breath and soak it all in, but I'm sure at some point that'll come. Well, Coach, once again, been fun watching your team throughout the year. Congratulations on back-to-back Pac-12 champs, and always appreciate when you carve out some time for us. Okay, appreciate you having me on.

Thank you very much. And download the free Odyssey app today. The listening you love is on the free Odyssey app. Your trusted local radio stations, coverage of your favorite teams, live news from your hometown, and millions of podcasts on demand.

Best of all? You can completely customize your listening experience. Follow topics you care about, like leagues and teams, pause or rewind your local sports and news, and add shows to your queue to catch up later. There's a lot to listen to, so get started and download the free Odyssey app today. The listening you love is on the free Odyssey app. Your trusted local radio stations, coverage of your favorite teams, live news from your hometown, and millions of podcasts on demand.

Best of all? You can completely customize your listening experience. Follow topics you care about, like leagues and teams, pause or rewind your local sports and news, and add shows to your queue to catch up later. There's a lot to listen to, so get started and download the free Odyssey app today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-06 22:31:18 / 2022-12-06 22:36:40 / 5

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