Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham on the turf at the Utes' home, Rice-Eccles Stadium.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is a big fan of college football. As such, he's excited about making his first trip to South Bend, Ind., later this week.

"Notre Dame is college football," he said. "When you think about the essence of college football you think Notre Dame."

The Utes plan to leave Salt Lake City early Friday and have a walk-through at historic Notre Dame Stadium in the afternoon.

"I'm looking forward to it," Whittingham said. "But I'm more excited for our players."

Walk-throughs are rare for the Utes. They only do so in rare circumstances like trips to Texas A&M, Michigan and the Louisiana Superdome.

"It's not our practice to walk-through, except at places that are somewhat unique," Whittingham explained.

Utah has no tours of Notre Dame planned, but Whittingham wants the players to get a feel for the place — at least what's possible in 45-minutes on the field.

Defensive end Christian Cox acknowledged it should be fun.

"You get to relax and see what their stadium is really like and see if it's all that it's cracked up to be," he said.

Whittingham admits there are a few other stadiums on his personal list, venues like those at Georgia and Auburn in the SEC.

"I think someday it would be nice to go take in a game at one of those places," he said.

STILL HURTING: Although Utah center Zane Taylor vows to move on, he admits Saturday's 47-17 loss to TCU was a tough one to swallow.

"Football is what I am. It's what I do and it defines me as a person," Taylor said. "So to have so much riding on that game and to lose so badly, it hurts. Right now, I still feel kind of sick to my stomach thinking about the game."

TOP TACKLER: Sophomore linebacker Manti Te'o, who leads Notre Dame with 11.1 tackles per game, was on a lot of recruiting radars — including Utah's — while playing high school ball in Hawaii.

"We would have loved to have the opportunity, but you only get five official visits and we were not involved in any of those visits," Whittingham said. "But he's a guy we certainly knew about since his sophomore year and he's a great player. I don't think there's anybody in the country that wouldn't have loved to have him in their program."

Besides Notre Dame, Te'o also made visits to BYU, Stanford, UCLA and USC.

"He's just a talented kid," Whittingham added. "An exceptionally talented kid."