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Utah Utes football: Team mentally prepared for grind of two-a-days

Published: Thursday, Aug. 13 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

The Ute football team started the dreaded two-a-days on Wednesday, and they will continue every other day until the start of school on Aug. 24.

Practicing twice a day in the hot sun isn't that bad, a least according to a couple of veterans.

"It was good — high intensity with a lot of guys flying around," said offensive lineman Zane Beadles. "We take it one practice at a time, that's all you can do. Look at the task at hand. You focus in the morning, get some rest and come back and ready to go for a second practice."

Ute senior safety Robert Johnson said getting through two-a-days is a matter of attitude.

"I look at it like, you can't be out here in survival mode," he said. "You can't be out here just going through reps just because you know the defense well. You need to work on something new and make sure you work on whatever the coaches tell you to work on."

Johnson was glad the Utes were back on the baseball field in the afternoon after practicing in the stadium in the morning.

"They say the stadium is nice-looking, but it gets real hot in there," said Johnson said, shaking his head. "It was real hot this morning."

OFFENSE: The old adage in college football is that the defense is usually way ahead of the offense for the first couple of weeks of fall camp.

This year that may not be the case at Utah, even without a veteran quarterback on the offense.

Chris Joppru, who is listed as the starting tight end, says, "This is the farthest I've ever seen our offense. Usually we're just getting our butt kicked by the defense right away. But I think we're going to surprise a lot of people."

Beadles agrees the offense is ahead of schedule, saying, "A lot of things were retained from the spring and there wasn't a lot of dropoff. We're just going to keep going up from there."

Of course, those are offensive guys, but even the defense can see it.

"The offense is doing completely better," said Robert Johnson. "They're starting to be on beat with this no-huddle. They're tiring us out. They're on the right track. They're gong to be real good by the time the season comes along."

MR. CLUTCH: The most popular guy at Thursday afternoon's practice was kicker Ben Vroman.

The Utes usually end practices with "gassers" where players must sprint from sideline to sideline in a certain amount of time, depending on position.

However, Whittingham made a deal, where the number of gassers could be cut from six to three if the kickers made two kicks, and none if the kickers made all three.

Vroman and Joe Phillips made theirs, but freshman Nick Marsh hooked his kick low and left.

Then Whittingham asked the team if they wanted to go double or nothing — four gassers or none if a kick was made from 45 yards out.

The players opted for the kick and Vroman got the call and drilled it through the middle, after which he was mobbed by jubilant teammates.

Utah camp report

Day 6: The Utes began two-a-days and will do it again Friday and three times next week. Coach Kyle Whittingham said his players came out with a great attitude and continued in the afternoon with "no dropoff."

Standouts: Both defensive tackle David Kruger and cornerback Lamar Chapman.

Injuries: Kamaron Yancy, backup defensive back, went with a dislocated toe. Latu Heimuli, Neil A'asa, Zach Wade and Reggie Topps went to "The Pit" with minor injuries.

Next: The Utes scrimmage today at 9 a.m. in Rice-Eccles Stadium. It is closed to the public and closed to media for the first 75 minutes.

Web extra: Check out Utah beat writer Dirk Facer's blog at deseretnews.com/blogs for more insight.

e-mail: sor@desnews.com

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