Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — DeVonte Christopher said it was hard to watch the last two games on television. Utah's leading receiver stayed home with an ankle injury while his teammates traveled to Pittsburgh and California.
"That was probably the toughest thing — not being able to be there," Christopher said. "I'm not used to not being on the trip and watching the game from home. It was definitely different."
Although Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the junior is not back for sure, Christopher is practicing this week and hopes to play in Saturday's game against Oregon State.
"Hopefully I can make some kind of impact, not just on the field but more from a mentality standpoint — just being there, keeping the guys going and stuff," Christopher said while noting it's an important role, especially in big situations like third downs.
Christopher took note of some things as he watched the Utes on television.
"Watching it I got a chance to get some reflection," he said. "I talked to the offense a little bit about what I saw, just from the outside looking in. We've got some things we've got to fix, and we've just got to get to it."
Christopher, who tops the team with 23 receptions and 351 receiving yards, is eager to be a part of the repairs. He's ready for quarterback Jon Hays to throw it his direction.
"Hopefully he sees me as a target, and we can make a go from here," Christopher said.
EMOTIONAL DAY: Prior to practice, Whittingham joined his family in taking son Alex to the Missionary Training Center in Provo. Alex is preparing for an LDS Church mission in Auckland, New Zealand.
Things went about as expected, he said, and the car ride home was very quiet.
CHOOSING THE RED: The Utes have a couple of connections to Oregon State, including a big one in terms of the defensive line. Paul Kruger, the father of Dave and Joe, played his college ball for the Beavers.
"He'll be rooting for us, of course, but there are some ties up there," Dave said as he explained that Dad is now a "Utah man."
Another connection is wide receiver Reggie Dunn. He signed with Oregon State out of high school before enrolling at Compton (Calif.) Community College and eventually ending up at Utah.
ANOTHER BLACKOUT: Utah's game at Arizona on Nov. 5 will start at 5 p.m. (MT) The only television broadcast of the game, however, will be on Tucson station KWBA and Fox Sports Arizona Plus. A waiver request by KJZZ to televise the game in Utah was denied by Fox Sports. Ute fans can follow the action on ESPN 700 radio.
"We knew going into this year that we wouldn't have all of our games on TV. That's just the way it is under the present Pac-12 contract and it was that way the previous years when it was the Pac-10," Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill explained. "So not everybody's been on TV and there are protected windows. This is first game we can't do back to our market. I'm disappointed for our fans. I understand their frustration.
"At the same time, I think none of us are surprised that this is happening when we look at the background and some of the explanations we had throughout the year," Hill added.
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