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Utah Utes football notebook: Offense showing some signs of progress

Published: Thursday, April 14 2011 12:49 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — After reviewing tape of Monday's scrimmage, Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged there were some positives offensively.

Overall production, however, wasn't nearly what he'd like it to be. Seven sacks and four interceptions left plenty of room for improvement.

It came Wednesday in the Spence Eccles Field House.

"We challenged them after the scrimmage," Whittingham said. "They watched the films yesterday. They understood what their deficiencies were and they came out here and worked hard on it."

The offense, particularly the running backs, looked sharp and executed well.

"It's a process and we've got to be patient and we've got to understand there's going to be a learning curve and some bumps in the road along the way. It's not time to panic," Whittingham said. "We were much better today, made a lot of plays out here. It's starting to come together. But we still need a lot of work. The pieces are in place. We've just got to continue to put it together."

Progress is being made, he explained, as Norm Chow's offensive scheme takes root.

The Utes are adjusting to the system this spring with projected starting quarterback Jordan Wynn unable to throw the ball following shoulder surgery. Injuries have also taken a toll on the offensive line, where Whittingham said some players may need to play on both teams in the spring game later this week.

The defense, meanwhile, received high marks from Whittingham for flying around in the scrimmage. He also thought they did a good job in Wednesday's practice.

Whittingham, though, thought there were a few too many mental mistakes. However, he's confident they will get it cleaned up.

SIGNS OF THE TIMES: Rice-Eccles Stadium has switched conferences. The Mountain West logos on the field have been replaced with Pac-12 designs, and a new banner on the west exterior of the stadium makes it clear that the primary tenant is switching leagues.

The home of the Utah Utes now carries the Pac-12 brand, both inside and out.

"Were starting to make that move. We've received approval from the Pac-12 to get going on that," said athletics director Chris Hill. "The official start date is July 1, but we thought we should get moving and have our fans see, visibly, where we are headed."

A few more things will crop up over the next couple of months, he added, with the real kickoff set for July 1 when the conference change becomes official.

"We hope to have a lot of support and interest in town and we are," Hill said. "People are getting excited about kicking things off."

Because he communicates often with Pac-12 people, Hill is dealing with the future more frequently than most.

Even so, the Pac-12 signs on the field and outside the stadium does stir something up.

"It does give you a tangible feel like 'Wow this is happening,'" Hill said.

EXTRA POINTS: The Utes will have a light practice Friday before wrapping up spring ball with the Red-White Game on Saturday at 1 p.m. ... Offensive lineman Vyncent Jones will be out 3-4 weeks with a sprained knee. ... Utah's Todd Campbell is the 2011 Mountain West Conference Video Coordinator of the Year. ... Wide receiver Mo Lee is getting a look at safety on Saturday. He'll play on both sides in the spring-ending game.

email: dirk@desnews.com

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