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Ute coach Kyle Whittingham says 1st day of fall camp was 'exceptional'

Published: Sunday, Aug. 2 2015 12:31 a.m. MDT

Coach Kyle Whittingham is interviewed following University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Coach Kyle Whittingham is interviewed following University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham liked what he saw on the first day of preseason camp Monday. Whittingham noted that he was “very encouraged” after the first of 25 practices prior to the Aug. 28 opener against Idaho State.

“This is an exceptional day one,” Whittingham said. “But it’s only day one. We can’t lose sight of that. We’ve got to start stringing them together and putting good practices and good work together consecutively. We’ll see if we’re mentally tough enough to do that.”

Camp continues Tuesday as the Utes progress through the NCAA’s acclimatization period. They’ll be able to wear full pads for the first time on Saturday. That’s also the first scheduled “double day” of camp.

Kendal Thompson passes during University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Kendal Thompson passes during University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

ON THE MEND: Whittingham gave updates on linebackers Gionni Paul (foot) and Jacoby Hale (knee), who were injured in spring ball.

Paul, he explained, is progressing as expected, perhaps even a little ahead of schedule.

“If we can get him by at least, at the latest, the opening of Pac-12 play (Sept. 27, Washington State) that would be great,” Whittingham said. “Sooner than that is a bonus.”

Whittingham added that Hale is still quite a ways out.

“Midseason or something like that,” he said.

BLECHEN’S BACK: After missing all of last season with an injury, senior Brian Blechen is back at strong safety for the Utes. The former Freshman All-American has 203 career tackles (119 solo) and eight interceptions.

Offensive Coordinator Dave Christensen is interviewed following University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Offensive Coordinator Dave Christensen is interviewed following University of Utah football practice in Salt Lake City, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

“We missed him last year,” Whittingham said. “We missed his physical presence on the field because he’s an intimidating player on defense and it’s great to get him back.”

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