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Utah Utes football notebook: U. will split RB duties four ways against Bobcats

Published: Monday, Aug. 29 2011 6:53 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — With the graduation of Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata, the Utah football team has little experience at the running back position this year.

Only Tauni Vakapuna has any major-college experience and very little at that, while John White is a JC transfer, Harvey Langi a true freshman and Thretton Palamo has mostly played rugby.

So how will the Utes utilize all four running backs?

Coach Kyle Whittingham said Monday he plans to use all four of his running backs this week against Montana State, and he also revealed that he has no plans to redshirt Langi, the highly touted freshman out of Bingham who is co-No. 3 on the depth chart right now.

"John White will be the starter and get the bulk of the carries," Whittingham said. "You're certainly going to see Tauni Vakapuna in the game, and you'll see Harvey and Thretton as well, depending how the game unfolds. We're high on all of them and we'll see how things transpire during the season, but we feel real good about all four of those guys."

Addressing rumors that Langi might be held out as a redshirt, Whittingham said, "I know it's been talked about a lot, but right now we have no plans to redshirt Harvey."

FUTURE SKEDS: The Utes have made no excuses for playing Montana State, a Football Championship Series (FCS) team this year. And Whittingham says the Utes may well have an FCS team every year on future schedules.

"You don't want to overschedule or underschedule, you're looking for balance," he said. "The games we've played in the past Michigan, Texas A&M, some of those higher-profile, non-conference games will still show up, but may be fewer and further between.

"But as it sits now, one high-profile game every other year or so, the rivalry game and someone like a Montana State or a Weber State or someone like that where it's an FCS team."

The rivalry game he spoke of is likely BYU, not Utah State, but it appears it will be hard to get both on the schedule with just three non-league games.

"It remains to be seen about the future of the rivalry game," Whittingham said, "It's in place for this year and next year, but beyond that, I can't answer that."

EXTRA POINTS: The Utes are expecting a sellout for Thursday night's game, which officially begins at 6:07 p.m. Limited bleacher seats and standing-room tickets may be purchased at UtahUtes.com, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, or by calling 801-581-UTIX. ... The decision on who will be the Utes' placekicker out of Nick Marsh and Coleman Peterson may come today or may be a game-time decision. ... The last time Utah played Montana State was in 1982 when the Utes won 30-12. ... Besides being 9-0 all-time against Montana State, the Utes are 31-0 all-time against Big Sky schools. ... The last one was against Weber State in 2008, when Utah won 37-21. ... Coach Whittingham's son, Tyler, and nephew, Jason, joined the team last week. Tyler is a senior safety and Jason is a freshman defensive end who recently returned from an LDS mission.

email: sor@desnews.com

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