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Utah football notebook: Pac-12 South race more interesting

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 19 2012 9:59 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Stanford's 21-14 victory over USC on Saturday did more than shake up the rankings. It also altered the landscape in the Pac-12 South.

"It certainly changes the dynamic of things," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said while noting that it puts a big, much different spin on things. "I think everybody assumed that SC would run the table. I think that was the assumption by most of the media and most of the national pundits."

Although few saw it coming, the early loss by the Trojans has opened things up in the quest for a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game against the North Division champion.

Strong starts by new coaching staffs at Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA have also made things more crowded.

"Every week is big," Whittingham said. "Each and every week."

The Utes begin a season-ending stretch of nine consecutive Pac-12 games Saturday at ASU.

WOLFMAN UPDATE: Utah running back declined to discuss the status of the ankle injury that kept him out of the BYU game. However, the senior did say "Oh yeah, for sure," when asked if he would be on the field Saturday. White said that his readiness is better this week and he's much more likely to play in this game.

After acknowledging that White has been limited in practice, Whittingham said that "he's doing OK."

BLACK HELMETS: The Utes donned black helmets in Wednesday's practice. Senior cornerback Moe Lee tweeted that they'll be worn at ASU on Saturday.

Whittingham, though, made it clear he didn't want to discuss uniforms and such. He said it doesn't have anything to do with how you play.

"To me it's irrelevant" Whittingham explained. "(It's) not even worth conversing about."

GREAT DEBUT: Freshman punter Tom Hackett, a preferred walk-on from Australia, made quite a splash in his first American football game. The sky punt specialist pinned all three of his kicks against BYU inside the 10-yard line.

Hackett's contributions to the 24-21 win over the Cougars led to be naming Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week.

"How about that?" Whittingham said. "He did a great a job."

Whittingham praised Hackett for being very accurate. He noted that he has great skill in terms of putting the ball right where he wants it to go.

STRONG START: True freshman Jeremiah Poutasi made quite an impact in his first action with the Utes. The right tackle was on the field for all but one play for the offense in last Saturday's 24-21 win over BYU in the Rivalry Game.

"He was outstanding for a kid in that situation," Whittingham said before noting the entire offensive line graded out at over 80 percent against the Cougars.

Although pleased with the progress that is being made up front, Whittingham noted that they still have a long way to go.

For the second straight week, the Utes plan to start Poutasi on the line with Vyncent Jones (right guard), Tevita Stevens (center), Jeremiah Tofaeono (left guard) and Sam Brenner (left tackle).

EXTRA POINTS: Senior punter Sean Sellwood leads the nation in punt average (48.88 yards per kick) for the second consecutive week. ... Saturday's game will be a homecoming of sorts for Utah receiver Luke Matthews and offensive lineman J.J. Dielman. Both players attended Desert Vista High School in Phoenix. ... Utah wide receiver Reggie Dunn is good friends with Arizona State safety Kevin Ayers.

Pac-12 South conference schedules

ARIZONA (3-0, 0-0) — Home (5): Sept. 29 vs. Oregon State; Oct. 20 vs. Washington; Oct. 27 vs. USC; Nov. 10 vs. Colorado; Nov. 23 vs. Arizona State. Away (4): Sept. 22 at Oregon; Oct. 6 at Stanford; Nov. 3 at UCLA; Nov. 17 at Utah.

ARIZONA STATE (2-1, 0-0) — Home (4): Sept. 22 vs. Utah; Oct. 20 vs. Oregon; Oct. 27 vs. UCLA; Nov. 17 vs. Washington State. Away (5): Sept. 29 at California; Oct. 13 at Colorado; Nov. 3 at Oregon State; Nov. 10 at USC; Nov. 23 at Arizona.

COLORADO (0-3, 0-0) — Home (5): Sept. 29 vs. UCLA; Oct. 13 vs. Arizona State; Nov. 3 vs. Stanford; Nov. 17 vs, Washington; Nov. 23 vs. Utah. Away (4): Sept. 22 at Washington State; Oct. 20 at USC; Oct. 27 at Oregon; Nov. 10 at Arizona.

UCLA (3-0, 0-0) — Home (5): Sept. 22 vs. Oregon State; Oct. 13 vs. Utah; Nov. 3 vs. Arizona; Nov. 17 vs. USC; Nov. 24 vs. Stanford. Away (4): Sept. 29 at Colorado; Oct. 6 at California; Oct. 27 at Arizona State; Nov. 10 at Washington State

USC (2-1, 0-1) — Home (4): Sept. 22 vs. California; Oct. 20 vs. Colorado; Nov. 3 vs. Oregon; Nov. 10 vs. Arizona State. Away (5): Sept. 15 lost at Stanford, 21-14; Oct. 4 at Utah; Oct. 13 at Washington; Oct. 27 at Arizona; Nov. 17 at UCLA.

UTAH (2-1, 0-0) — Home (4): Oct. 4 vs. USC; Oct. 27 vs. California; Nov. 3 vs. Washington State; Nov. 17 vs. Arizona. Away (5): Sept. 22 at Arizona State; Oct. 13 at UCLA; Oct. 20 at Oregon State; Nov. 10 at Washington; Nov. 23 at Colorado.

Email: dirk@desnews.com Twitter: @DirkFacer

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