Utah football notebook: Utes' thin offensive line hampered by injuries

Published: Thursday, Aug. 11 2011 10:00 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Injuries to Sam Brenner (elbow), Isaac Asiata (high ankle sprain) and Latu Heimuli (thumb surgery) have temporarily thinned an offensive line that was already lacking depth.

"We've had to shuffle the deck but that's how it is. Nobody feels sorry for you. The guys that are in the lineup have got to step up and get it done," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "You like to have some cohesiveness on the offensive line, and that comes with having the same five guys work together for a long period of time, so hopefully that's going to get better and better."

Asiata is expected back soon, while Brenner will likely return in seven to 10 days. Heimuli, meanwhile, could be sidelined for a couple of weeks.

"Most teams in the country have depth issues at O-line," Whittingham said. "That's kind of the common denominator throughout the country, so it's nothing that is out of the ordinary."

TWO-A-DAYS: Whittingham said Utah's first two-a-day went well on Wednesday.

"They handled it very well," he acknowledged after completing the second session before a large gathering of Crimson Club members who were invited to watch practice at Ute Field.

The Utes practiced at Rice-Eccles Stadium earlier in the day.

"We started off nice in the first practice. Of course, you're going to be kind of beat up for the second practice. But you've got to go out there and compete and go to work," said running back John White IV. "You know it's going to be a grind. It's going to be a grind in the games. It's going to be a grind in two-minute. So we've just got to go out there and play."

Utah's second two-a-day of camp is slated for today.

LEADERS OF THE PACK: Junior college transfer John White IV isn't taking anything for granted, even if he is moving to the forefront on the running back competition with Harvey Langi and Thretton Palamo. He led the Utes with 47 yards on 12 carries in the scrimmage.

"I'm just going to keep working hard. Being No. 1, that's nothing. Anybody can come up on my back," White IV said. "These guys are working hard, too. They want to play, too. We compete."

Senior Tauni Vakapuna, who ran for 42 yards Thursday, has also entered the picture.

At receiver, DeVonte Christopher was pleased to lead the way with four catches for 102 yards in the scrimmage. His goal is to be the go-to guy this fall.

"This is just step one for me becoming the best player I can," Christopher said. "So far, so good. I've just got to keep working, keep grinding. I've just got to stay positive and keep trusting my teammates and everything."

Email: dirk@desnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company