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Utah Utes football: Brian Blechen makes splash in debut at linebacker

Published: Thursday, July 2 2015 3:48 p.m. MDT

Utah's Brian Blechen intercepts a pass meant for Montana's Elvis Akpla as the Utes host the Montana State Bobcats at Rice Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011.   (Mike Terry, Deseret News) Utah's Brian Blechen intercepts a pass meant for Montana's Elvis Akpla as the Utes host the Montana State Bobcats at Rice Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. (Mike Terry, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Brian Blechen, who led the team in interceptions last year with four when he played safety, may end up leading the team in interceptions as a linebacker this year.

Blechen picked off two passes in Thursday night's win, one early in the game to set up the Utes' first touchdown and one late in the game to stop a Montana State drive.

During the offseason, the Utes converted Blechen from safety to linebacker and had him put on a few extra pounds. He performed well during fall drills and said he's happy with the change.

"It was good," he said "I like linebacker a lot, it was fun to be out there hitting. So far it's awesome."

Coach Kyle Whittingham, who didn't have a lot of nice things to say about his team's performance Thursday, praised Blechen afterwards.

 Utah Utes linebacker Brian Blechen (4) tries to lateral after intercepting the ball during the Utes' season-opener at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City  Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011.  (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News) Utah Utes linebacker Brian Blechen (4) tries to lateral after intercepting the ball during the Utes' season-opener at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City Thursday, Sept. 1, 2011. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

"We benefitted from a couple of big plays by Brian Blechen," Whittingham said. "Those two interceptions were huge."

Blechen picked off Denarius McGhee just two minutes into the game and returned it 39 yards to the 8-yard line. Then in the fourth quarter, he intercepted a McGhee pass at the Utah 15 and returned it 20 yards.

Besides his two interceptions, Blechen also came up with seven tackles on the night, fourth best on the defense.

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