SALT LAKE CITY — As Utah's Sept. 2 opener with Pittsburgh approaches, head coach Kyle Whittingham is pleased with the progress the Utes have made through nine days of practice.
"I think we're in good shape," he said. "I think all the position battles are going about as expected. Some are as solidified as can be at this point and time. Others are still wide open."
One of the good battles, Whittingham pointed out, is for the second foursome of receivers. The Utes have a talented pool of receivers and two scrimmages (Tuesday, Saturday) this week should help sort things out as far as the rotation and travel squad is concerned.
Preparations for Pitt are also well under way and segments of practice devoted to facing the Panthers will increase before the opener.
Utah's defense, in particular, is focusing in on Pitt's highly touted offense.
HE'LL BE BACK: Whittingham said the foot injury (sprain) that may sideline junior linebacker J.J. Williams for another week or so, won't necessarily alter the depth chart at rover.
"He's one of the most instinctive linebackers that we've had here . . . Things come naturally to him," Whittingham said. "This down time really shouldn't be a negative for him."
ASIATA BACKFIELD: Senior tailback Matt Asiata and his big little brother Shawn are doing well in camp.
"They're both a big part of what we're doing," Whittingham said.
While Matt (5-11, 230) is currently atop the depth chart with Eddie Wide, Shawn (6-0, 253) is developing into an H-back/fullback. The latter was a linebacker at Snow College.
"That's what you want in the backfield at the fullback position is a guy that has that linebacker mentality," Whittingham said. "And that's exactly what Shawn brings."
Fullbacks, he added, are a very rare commodity in college football these days.