Utah football: Anticipation is winding down as Utes ready to open Pac-12 era
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's wait is almost over. When the Utes face Montana State Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, they'll do so a member of an automatic qualifying conference. Pac-12 logos adorn their uniforms, helmets, field and stadium.
"I think it's been a lot of anticipation," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "That's probably the best way to describe it."
It's been a busy offseason for the Utes. Media exposure has been plentiful has they make the jump from the Mountain West Conference.
Whittingham, however, isn't complaining. It's been great for the program, he said, while noting that the enhanced attention comes with the territory and was expected.
As for talk of carrying the banner for all the non-automatic qualifiers, Whittingham thinks that aspect may be getting a little too much hype.
It's not really what the original "BCS Busters" are after this season.
"I think that's a little overblown and we're just trying to win the South Division," Whittingham said. "That's our objective and we don't really have any other sense of anything else that we need to accomplish, just try to win the South Division."
At the same time, Whittingham doesn't sense that the other teams in the Pac-12 are rallying to give the newcomers a beat-down or anything like it to prove prior BCS superiority.
"I'm not sure anybody out there is hoping we fail. Everyone is just hoping that they win. That's the bottom line," he added. "And so I don't think there's any 'We'll show these guys who's boss' or any of that stuff. You just line up and play. We've played enough very good football teams over the past 10 years I think we have people's respect and so I didn't sense that."
Utah's first Pac-12 game is Sept. 10 at USC.
MEET THE PRESS: With the shortened week, the Utes will only be available to the media on Monday. Whittingham will be joined at the team's first weekly press conference by quarterback Jordan Wynn, defensive tackle Dave Kruger and fullback Luke Matthews.
UTILIZING TIGHT ENDS: Utah's offensive scheme has not involved the tight ends very much over the past several years. That, however, will not be the case this season with Norm Chow running the offense.
"We want to utilize the tight end position. It's been a big part of Norm's offense for a lot of years," Whittingham said. "We've got four good ones and we're going to make sure we maximize all the personnel."
The tight ends, he added, have been making plays and that's the bottom line as to why they'll be implemented.
Junior Kendrick Moeai topped last week's depth chart at tight end. Freshman Jake Murphy was listed as the back-up.
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