UCLA Football Preview: Utah Coaching Staff Delivers Consistent Excellence
There's a reason Kyle Whittingham is the longest-tenured head coach in the Pac-12.
This week, the UCLA Bruins head to Salt Lake City for a game against the Utah Utes. This will be one of the toughest games on the Bruins’ schedule, partly because of the altitude and partly because Utah is a very good football team.
One of the reasons that the Utes are a good football team is because they are well-coached. Head coach Kyle Whittingham always seems to have his team prepared to play.
Whittingham is in his 17th season as the coach of the Utes. That makes him the longest-tenured coach in the Pac-12, and there’s a reason why he’s that’s the case. Whittingham has a 134-66 record at the helm of the program.
But the head coaching job isn’t the only place where Utah’s coaching staff has had stability. Morgan Scalley is now in his sixth year as the Utes’ defensive coordinator and his 14th season as a coach with Utah overall. Scalley is a great example of homegrown talent. Scalley has been at Utah since he was a player from 2001 to 2004.
Relatively speaking, Andy Ludwig is the new guy on the Block U. But, even still, Ludwig is in his third year as Whittingham’s offensive coordinator. Ludwig is a well-traveled OC who has made stops at Oregon, Wisconsin, UC Berkeley and Vanderbilt. Technically, he’s in his third stint at Utah. Back in 1992, he was a defensive grad assistant and his second stint was from 2005 to 2008 including the Utes’ undefeated 2008 season. He prefers to run a balanced offensve attack.
Let’s take a look at the Utes’ special teams.
The Utes seem to using both Jadon Redding and Jordan Noyes for their kicking duties. Noyes seems to have won the job kicking off for the Utes while both kickers have been kicking field goals and PATs.
Redding is still listed at the top of depth chart, but he hasn’t played since the Utes’ game against Washington State. That may be because he is only five of eight on field goal attempts this season. Noyes has gone two for three with his only miss coming from beyond 50 yards. I would expect to see Noyes do most of the kicking tomorrow, especially on kickoffs where 17 of his 31 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks.
By comparison, the Utes’ only punter is Cameron Peasley. Peasley is averaging almost 41.5 yards per punt with a long of 59 yards. He’s had three punts go for more than 50 yards while five have landed inside the 20.
Look for junior wide receiver Britain Covey to take almost all of Utah’s punt returns. Covey has been the team’s punt returner for all but one of the punts they’ve received so far this season. While Covey is averaging 17.7 yards per return, he did pop one for 80 yards and a touchdown against San Diego State. So, UCLA needs to watch out for him.
Kickoff returns are a different story. The Utes seem to be using fair catches most of the time as the team has only had three kickoffs returned so far this season. Chris Covey has returned two of them for a total of 29 yards while Covey took the other one for 25 yards. Covey should still be regarded as dangerous, but I expect the Utes will fair catch most of the kickoffs they receive tomorrow.