Utah Utes football: Utes hold off on installing wrinkles in new offense

Published: Wednesday, March 16 2011 12:34 a.m. MDT

Quarterback Griff Robles delivers a pass last week during spring practice for the University of Utah football team.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has tweaked its plan to install all of the new wrinkles in the offense in the five practices before spring break.

"It'll all still be presented to them soon," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "Just not quite as quickly as we originally thought."

Things are progressing, he explained, but it's a process.

"You've got a lot of installation and two young quarterbacks," Whittingham said. "So there's going to be a learning curve, and as long as we've got good focus and good effort, we'll be OK."

With quarterback Jordan Wynn unable to throw the ball until June because of shoulder surgery, sophomore Griff Robles and freshman Tyler Shreve are splitting the snaps. There are several other newcomers on offense as well.

"We have to slow down a little bit," explained offensive coordinator Norm Chow. "We wanted to get most of it in before the break. Then we decided, why?"

That's not to say, however, there's no sense of urgency to get things done.

"It'll all be in by the week we get back from spring break," Chow said.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST: There were several familiar faces observing practice Tuesday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The visitors included former Utah offensive coordinator Mike Sanford (Louisville), ex-Ute head coach Ron McBride (Weber State), as well as graduated players Cecil Thomas and Casey Evans.

"It's good to have them all out," Whittingham said.

The reunions continue Thursday when Urban Meyer returns to Salt Lake City to tape an upcoming coaching segment for ESPN.

"Urban's coming to town and it's good. It's good for our program. It'll be good exposure," Whittingham said. "And it'll be great to see him again. I haven't seen him for a couple of months."

PRACTICE REPORT: Chow and Whittingham were pleased with the offense in Tuesday's practice.

"I think our guys are working hard. They're trying to do the right things. It's really fun and encouraging," Chow said. "We've just got to keep working — get the timing and the rhythm and that kind of stuff — and it takes a while."

Chow thought running back John White had a good day and felt the offensive line played better with the return of Sam Brenner.

Whittingham noted that quarterbacks Shreve and Robles are making progress. He was particularly impressed with Shreve.

"He's doing some good things, throwing the ball much better," Whittingham said. "He was a little bit nervous the first couple of days, but he's settled in and doing a nice job."

Other notable performances, he added, were turned in by running backs Harvey Langi, Luke Matthews and White.

As for the defense, Whittingham noted that things didn't go as well as Saturday, but that "guys are working hard."

EXTRA POINTS: Wide receiver DeVonte Christopher has a "significant" hamstring pull and may miss the remainder of spring ball. … The Utes will resume contact drills Thursday at the stadium from 3-5 p.m. The public is invited to attend. … Terrell Reese is now listed as the co-starter at free safety with Damian Payne.

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com

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