SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's season-ending stretch of games is loaded with challenges. Unlike back-to-back contests against USC and BYU, which was followed by a bye week, the Utes won't have any time to cool their heels — rest up or heal up, for that matter.
"It's nine (weeks) in a row with no break. We've got to get ourselves playing well and improving each week," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "That will be a key, if we can improve from week-to-week."
It's something, he added, that the Utes have managed to do over the first three games of the season.
"But we've got to keep that going," Whittingham said while noting that improvements must continue across the board.
At 2-1 overall and 0-1 in Pac-12 play, there's a sense of urgency as the Utes prepare for Saturday's homecoming game against Washington.
"We only have one non-conference game left, so from here on out we've got to win," said quarterback Jordan Wynn. "If we want to win the conference, this is the time."
After facing the Huskies, the Utes close things out with games against Arizona State (Oct. 8), Pittsburgh (Oct. 15), California (Oct. 22), Oregon State (Oct. 29), Arizona (Nov. 5), UCLA (Nov. 12), Washington State (Nov. 19) and Colorado (Nov. 25).
"It's a schedule where we can go 9-0. But we can also go 0-9 at the same time," Wynn said. "So it's tough and we've just got to continue to work and prepare."
IT IS WHAT IT IS: When asked if he was officially old because the opposing head coach (Washington's Steve Sarkisian) was a guy he tried to stop as a defensive coordinator, Whittingham didn't miss a beat.
"I'm officially old for a lot of reasons," said the 51-year-old Utah coach. "That being one of many, one of a list of a thousand."
Sarkisian split two meetings with Utah when he was BYU's quarterback in 1995-96.
"I remember him very well," Whittingham said. "He was a very accurate passer."
CHOW TIME: Another week, another round of questions for Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow. Previous stints at BYU, USC and UCLA have given him great insight into the challenges the Utes face this season — making him a popular resource for the media.
Chow, however, downplays it all. He refers to himself as just an "old guy" who has coached a lot of games and been a lot of places.
"But it's still exciting," Chow said "It's still fun and it's still very challenging."
SIDELINED DAWG: Washington defensive end Hau'oli Jamora, who made three tackles-for-loss in the Huskies' win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl last season, will likely miss the rest of the season because of a torn ACL in his left knee..
Sarkisian said the sophomore will be missed in a variety of ways.
"It's going to be a good challenge for us to step up and replace him — not only on the field, but in the meeting rooms, the locker room," he explained.
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said that Coleman Petersen is still Utah's primary placekicker. The junior has missed two field goals and a PAT this season. ... Nick Marsh and Sean Sellwood will continue to share punting duties. Marsh has punted eight times this season, while Sellwood has kicked seven. ... Utah leads the Pac-12 in kickoff coverage with a net average of 50.3 yards.
USC's QB gets reprimand
LOS ANGELES — The Pac-12 has reprimanded Southern California quarterback Matt Barkley for referring to Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict as a dirty player.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced the reprimand on Tuesday, saying Barkley had violated the conference's policy on sportsmanship. Barkley received no suspension or additional punishment.
USC coach Lane Kiffin says he agrees Barkley's comment wasn't appropriate.
Barkley, who played against Burfict during high school, made the comment to the Los Angeles Times last week before the Trojans' 43-22 loss to the Sun Devils.
Barkley didn't back down from his words Tuesday before the reprimand was announced, but added his thoughts came from "a place of respect" for Burfict's abilities.