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Utah Utes football: Utes looking to push through 'dog days' of training camp

Published: Monday, Aug. 15 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham acknowledged it's that tough time of year. The so-called "dog days of camp" are here as the Utes enter a final week featuring three scheduled double days, two scrimmages and general wear-and-tear.

"You're far enough in where you're beat up and sore, but it's far enough away from the end that you can't really see it," Whittingham said. "And so you're right in the middle of it right now. You've got to just be tough and handle it because that's the nature of the game."

After six straight days on the practice field, the Utes were given Sunday off. Quarterback Jordan Wynn planned to sleep all day.

Camp, he explained, is a grueling routine.

"You wake up and you don't know what day its is," Wynn said of rolling out of bed each day at 6 a.m., then getting something to eat before heading out for practice and workouts.

"It's tough," Wynn continued. "But that's what camp is. You come together with your teammates and grind it out."

Whittingham is pleased with how things have gone, thus far. The Utes have only had two days off (both Sundays) since opening camp on Aug. 4.

"The guys have got a great attitude and a great work ethic," Whittingham said.

As for the offense, which has been tweaked a bit since Norm Chow's arrival as coordinator, Wynn notes that progress is being made.

"We've been out here giving good effort, getting our work done," he said.. "I think the offense is starting to come around and get going."

LEADING THE PACK: After 10 days of practice, junior college transfer John White IV is the leading candidate to be Utah's top running back. Whittingham confirmed White was the No. 1 guy after Saturday's practice. However, he added, there's still a lot of camp remaining and White will have to hold on to it to be the starter.

The biggest surprise, at this point, is senior walk-on Tauni Vakapuna. He's moved ahead of projected contenders Harvey Langi and Thretton Palamo, despite practicing with a sore knee.

"He is getting all the No. 2 reps and doing a good job," Whittingham said.

Vakapuna missed spring ball for personal issues, but has returned to the program with the same passion he showed last season in earning a spot behind co-starters Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide.

"He was behind when he started camp (this year)," Whittingham said. "But he's made up that ground and doing a nice job."

THE NEW KID: Langi, the highly touted running back out of Bingham High School, is still very much in the mix entering the final week of camp. At one point, he was deemed as a slight frontrunner.

"We've got to be patient. It's tough for a true freshman to come in and make that transition. It's not easy," Whittingham said while noting the physicality associated with the position. "But he's handling it well. Harvey's got a bright future here. I don't think there's any doubt about that."

Email: dirk@desnews.com Twitter: @DirkFacer

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