Utah Utes football: Utes' theme for Day 5 was physicality
Mike Terry, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's first practice with full pads was a hit — make that hits.
"(There) was a lot of physicality to the practice today," said coach Kyle Whittingham. "It was good to be able to play real football. Up to this point we've been limited, but today we were able to do everything we needed to do from a contact standpoint."
Things even got a bit chippy a couple of times between the offense and defense.
It's something Whittingham, however, would like to keep to a minimum.
"If you're not competing and everyone is Mr. Nice Guy, that's not what you want to see. You want to see good competition but you want to be smart," he said. "Skirmishes are going to break out every once in a great while. But what you're mainly looking for is guys competing and getting better fundamentally and technique-wise."
There were several standouts in Utah's final session under the NCAA-mandated acclimatization period. Whittingham singled out the play of safeties Keith McGill and Eric Rowe, as well as defensive end Nate Fakahafua. Kickers Nick Marsh and Coleman Petersen also drew praise.
Quarterback Jordan Wynn saw limited action for precautionary reasons. He's on a throw count in practice to keep his surgically repaired throwing shoulder healthy. Backups Jon Hays and Tyler Shreve picked up additional reps because of it.
The running back battle between Harvey Langi, Thretton Palamo and John White intensified. White had a solid showing in the fifth practice.
Overall, offensive coordinator Norm Chow was somewhat pleased with what he saw.
"It went fine. There was a lot of physical play out of guys," said Chow, who wasn't happy with a number of mistakes that were made. "But you expect that with the execution the first day you put on pads. Everyone was excited to go. It was fun. I'm anxious to see the tape."
The Utes will have their first two-a-day of camp on Wednesday and scrimmage on Thursday.
ALL TOGETHER NOW: After four days as No. 1 and No. 2 on the depth chart at free safety, McGill and Rowe were both on the field with the ones Tuesday. Rowe was moved to strong safety.
Whittingham said "nothing is set in stone," but it was something the coaches wanted to take a look at.
KICKING COMPETITION: Whittingham was pleased to see kickers Marsh and Petersen have a good day.
"Thank goodness," he said. "They were night and day compared to yesterday."
Marsh has a slight edge for the placekicking job, Whittingham noted, but it's still "far from being determined."
INJURY UPDATE: Other than a possible bruised forearm to offensive lineman Sam Brenner, the Utes are relatively healthy at this point.
Wide receiver Anthony Denham, who injured his hamstring early in camp, is improving.
"If everything goes real well, the best-case scenario I think is mid-to-end of next week," Whittingham said. "But I think that's a reach."
EXTRA POINTS: Fakahafua had a nice interception during live work late in practice . . . Whittingham acknowledged that White is "stating his case" at running back, but added that Langi and Palamo are doing the same. Tauni Vakapuna and Jarrell Oliver are also showing a lot of upside ... Utah will practice at Rice-Eccles Stadium Wednesday morning and Ute Field in the late afternoon.
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