Utah Utes football notebook: Utes gearing up to 'grind' it out

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 7 2012 9:43 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — It's that time up on the hill.

"The grind is on."

That's how Utah coach Kyle Whittingham described the opening of what he calls the dog days of preseason camp.

"It's great to get back into full gear and play real football," Whittingham said after Tuesday morning's practice at Ute Field. "We practice very physically and we get after it pretty good. That's what our guys are used to and that's what they enjoy. It was good to be able to do that today."

After completing the NCAA-mandated acclimatization period, the Utes embark on a challenging week of camp that includes double-days today and Friday; a scrimmage on Thursday; and a "heavy duty" practice on Saturday. They'll get Sunday off, Whittingham noted, before doing it all again next week.

"You've got to be mentally tough to get through it," Whittingham said.

Running backs drew the biggest praise after the opening session in full gear. Whittingham said he was pleased with the entire position group. Although starter John White wasn't utilized in live work, Whittingham credited the senior for being "exceptional the last couple of days."

Quarterbacks Jordan Wynn, Jon Hays and Travis Wilson saw red-zone work — turning it over once, one too many times for Whittingham.

"We'll look at the film and get the details of it all," he said. "But at least watching it as it unfolded, I thought (the quarterbacks) did a pretty nice job and did some good things."

ON THE LINE: Injuries may sideline a couple of offensive linemen for 2-3 weeks. Junior center Vyncent Jones (hamstring) and senior tackle Miles Mason (ankle) were both on the latest depth chart — Jones as a backup and Mason as a starter on the right side.

Whittingham said the Utes have interior depth, but noted that the competition for the starting tackle spots may intensify without Mason.

"This gives other guys an opportunity to get some reps and see what they can do," Whittingham said.

WHIT THE SLUGGER: To break up the monotony of camp, Utah's practices often end with an unusual activity.

On Tuesday, it involved Whittingham hitting baseballs to players from different position groups — seeing who could catch high flies near the outfield fence at Ute Field.

For the most part, the players did well catching the balls without a glove. Whittingham, however, appeared to have the most fun.

"I love baseball," he said. "It was always my favorite sport growing up."

Before shifting his focus to football on a full-time basis at BYU, Whittingham played centerfield, pitcher, shortstop and a little bit of catcher for Provo High School — doing so in American Legion ball as well.

Email: dirk@desnews.com Twitter: @DirkFacer

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