SALT LAKE CITY — Although it seemed like a Saturday morning, as far as coach Kyle Whittingham and the Ute football team were concerned, it was a Tuesday afternoon practice at the McCarthey practice field as the team prepares for Thursday night's opener against Pitt in Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Utes are in a regular practice routine with the scout team wearing different colored jerseys (yellow) as the Ute offense works on specific plays and the scout team offense tries to mimic the Pitt offense. They'll take today off as usual, then Monday will be like a Wednesday practice, Tuesday like a Thursday and Wednesday's walk-through, like a normal Friday.
"We have the right mentality and work ethic, and now it's a matter of going out the making the right plays Thursday night," Whittingham said. "We've had good focus and concentration all throughout fall camp.
UTE PLAYER TRIVIA: A few things you may have never known about Ute players, revealed in the Ute football media guide ...
— The father of freshman safety Damian Payne played college football at Pitt.
— Although he played high school football in Michigan, Neli A'asa grew up in a village in Pago Pago, Samoa.
— Lamar Chapman dedicates every game to his brother Raymar, who was a victim of violent crime at age 16.
— DeVonte Christopher's father played basketball for Southern Utah in the mid-1990s.
— Sealver Siliga has 10 siblings: five brothers and five sisters.
— Westlee Tonga's brother-in-law is former BYU running back Reno Mahe.
— Trevor Reilly, whose younger brother, A.J., played for the Utah basketball team in 2007, set a world record in 2004 for onion eating.
— Kapua Sai, who seems to have the second-shortest name on the team (behind Nai Fotu), actually may have the longest. His full name is Klayton Kapuaa Keanu Ki'ilaweau Sai.
— Chaz Walker once won the state karate championship.
— Dres Anderson's father, Flipper, played in the NFL for 10 years.
— Star Lotulelei's full name is Starlite, and he is named after his father.
— Offensive lineman Daniel Bukarau is the only player on the team who began his career at Utah in 2003, Urban Meyer's first year.
INJURY UPDATE: Whittingham said the Utes are on an "uptrend" on the injury front with only a handful of guys still working out in the injury pit. Two players, receiver Sean Fitzgerald, and backup guard Ron Tongaonevai, returned to action Saturday.
Whittingham also said backup running back Sausan Shakerin is out "indefinitely" with a concussion and starting linebacker J.J. Williams is "50-50 at best" to play Thursday night. Whittingham stressed Williams is one player the Utes would really like to have ready for Thursday.