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Utah Utes football notebook: Utes have spirited practice — again

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 23 2012 8:19 p.m. MDT

Utah Utes wide receiver DeVonte Christopher (10) scores past USC during Pac-12 football in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham wasn’t surprised the Utes had a spirited practice Tuesday.

“I’ve been saying for weeks and weeks, our issue is not Monday through Thursday. These guys know how to practice. They know how to take care of their business,'” he said. “We’ve just got to find a way to make more plays — more pivotal plays — on Saturdays.”

Whittingham added there are three-to-five such momentum-changing plays per game and the team that makes the majority of them usually wins.

Wide receiver DeVonte Christopher said the Utes just have to figure out a way to put everything together. They’ve lost four straight games.

“There’s absolutely no excuses,” he explained about the team’s recent lack of success. “We practice hard all week and then somehow we figure out a way on Saturdays not to execute and kind of mess things up for ourselves. So, if we can just get that under wraps...“

STILL CONFIDENT: Christopher’s individual struggles, which include two turnovers he had a role in during last weekend’s loss at Oregon State, hasn’t affected the senior’s determination.

“My confidence is not shaken at all,” he said. “I just know I’ve got to play better. That’s basically the main thing.”

Christopher is hopeful that if he and others who are struggling can turn things around, the entire offense will get back on track.

There’s a sense of urgency, Christopher noted, because he only has five games (six if the Utes make it to a bowl) left to play in his college career.

“So I’ve just got to figure out a way to make it happen,” he said.

BLECHEN PENALTY: Whittingham weighed in on Brian Blechen’s helmet-to-helmet personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter of the Oregon State game. It allowed the Beavers to keep what proved to be a touchdown drive alive.

“With the Blechen penalty, we don’t know how to teach that any differently. To me, it appeared the ball carrier had turned around and was heading towards Brian,” Whittingham said. “I don’t know. I don’t have a good explanation for that. It didn’t feel like we could teach that any differently. I guess the best explanation I can make is that’s a tough one.”

EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said that junior Vyncent Jones will start in place of the injured Jeremiah Tofaeono at left guard against Cal. ... 2011-12 softball star Gennera Nielson will be honored with the Occie Evans Award (presented each year to the most outstanding senior woman athlete on a team sport at Utah) during a break in Saturday’s game. ... The eighth-annual Varsity Club reunion will be held this weekend with approximately 400 former Utah student-athletes expected to participate.

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

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