Utah football: Utes defense struggling to get interceptions
Utah football notes • Utes have just two this season.
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Utah's defense leads the nation with 13 forced fumbles, but it still wants more turnovers — and specifically interceptions.

The Utes have just two this season after finishing 2011 with 19.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham called Utah's performance unacceptable.

"We've had some opportunities, but we have just misjudged some balls," Whittingham said. "We should have had five or six ... and we didn't."

Safety Brian Blechen built a reputation for creating turnovers, but the junior has struggled this year since returning from a three-game suspension. He had six tackles against Arizona State and nine tackles with two pass breakups against USC.

Corner Ryan Lacy and defensive lineman Joe Kruger have Utah's two interceptions this year.

"We preach every week about turnovers, and we have done a good job creating fumbles," Whittingham said. "We haven't done a good job of intercepting the ball."

Murphy stepping up at tight end

The Utes had grand plans to use their tight ends this season but now that they are adding in more of the spread elements, will the tight ends go MIA again?

Last year, Dallin Rogers led the tight ends with 22 catches for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and Kendrick Moeai had 15 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.

This year, tight end Jake Murphy is the team's second-leading receiver with 14 catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

Murphy, who had just five catches for 64 yards in 2011, is taking Utah's offensive tweaks as a personal challenge to make sure the Utes can't live without him.

"I'm going to keep working hard and make it hard for them to keep the tight ends off the field," he said.

Running back attack

UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin has five 100-yard games this season, tying him for third on UCLA's career 100-yard rushing list with 15 games. Gaston Green set the record rushing for 20 100-yard games during his career (1984-87), and Freeman McNeil is second with 17 (1977-1980).

Utah running back John White has nine 100-yard games but just one this year, when he rushed for 119 yards in Utah's opener against Northern Colorado.

However, an ankle injury has slowed White this season and he will get more chances now that he is healthier, Whittingham said.

"In hindsight, we probably should have given him a few more carries against USC," Whittingham said. "He had 13, but we probably should have given him closer to 17 or 18 carries."

White finished with 68 yards against USC.