Utah Utes football notebook: RB Wide carries a load with strong camp

Published: Thursday, Aug. 20 2009 12:49 a.m. MDT

Eddie Wide knows he's the backup to Matt Asiata. And Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham keeps emphasizing that Asiata is No. 1 and will get the bulk of the carries this fall.

That isn't keeping Wide from having an excellent camp so far.

Wide has been impressive in practices as well as in the scrimmages. In Tuesday's scrimmage, Wide ripped off a 64-yard run, and a week earlier he caught a 60-yard touchdown pass from Terrance Cain while also making several carries.

He was limited to just two touches Tuesday due to a hamstring strain, of which he said, "It's just been tight, nothing too serious."

Asiata is one of several Ute players the coaches are keeping out of most live situations to prevent injury, but Wide is taking advantage of his increased playing time.

"It gives me the reps I need to practice and get better," he said. "It's a lot of fun to show the coaches what you can do so they can trust you when they put you in."

Wide has always been known as a shifty runner, and this year he's improved in other areas as he's bulked up from 180 pounds to 197.

"My pass blocking is a lot better than last year," he said. "I've put on some weight, so I'm confident I can pick up the block."

Whittingham said of Wide, "He's had a very good camp. He's got extremely quick feet in the hole and he's shifty. He was not the Player of the Year in Nevada for no reason."

Even though he may not be the main man in the backfield this year, Wide enjoys being on the field as much as possible.

"I start on every one of the special teams," he said. "I love special teams."

MANIS LIKES THE SWITCH: It's hard to miss Chad Manis on the sidelines at Ute practices since he's one of the tallest players on the team at 6-foot-5 and has a hairdo with bleached blond spots on his brown hair.

Manis, who was recruited to Utah as a quarterback, is also making his mark on the field as a linebacker, recording a sack in Tuesday's scrimmage.

"It's been great," he said. "I've been learning the defense, and all the linebackers have helped me out and coach (Kalani) Sitake has been real helpful."

So what's the biggest adjustment he's had to make from QB to LB?

"They're totally different," Manis said. "At quarterback, you have to be cool, calm and collected. At linebacker, you have to be nuts. But it's fun; I love to have that mentality."

About that hair, Manis said he didn't get a Mohawk like the rest of the linebackers because he recently got engaged and will be having his wedding pictures taken later this month. He plans to dye the bleached hair back to brown.

TIDBITS: After practice Wednesday morning, the Ute coaches invited three players to try to throw footballs over the top of the south side of Rice-Eccles Stadium. Freshman quarterback Griff Robles, receiver Shaky Smithson and linebacker Manis, a converted quarterback, all tried, but each ended up hitting one of the top two rows.

Misi suffers back spasms

Utah defensive end Koa Misi, who was carted off the practice field Wednesday with what was originally described as back spasms, will be re-examined this morning.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham said the senior was still in pain hours later and that the team doctor wouldn't even venture a guess as to the nature of the injury until things calm down.

"The doctor came over and looked and said we really won't know anything until we get him a full-out evaluation tomorrow," said Whittingham, who noted that procedures like an MRI and X-rays are expected. "No further news other than we are just hoping for the best."

Misi, the projected starter at right end, made the Mountain West's preseason all-conference team.

— Dirk Facer

e-mail: sor@desnews.com

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