Tom Smart, Deseret News
Utah's Jon Hays throws the ball during University of Utah football practice in Rice-Eccles Stadium Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — Illness kept Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn out of practice for the second consecutive day.

"He's better. I should say that he's improved," said head coach Kyle Whittingham. "Hopefully, if everything continues in the direction it's going right now, we'll get him back tomorrow. That would be ideal."

Backup Jon Hays took the No. 1 reps Thursday morning at Ute Field and showed signs of improvement.

"His game is tightening up," Whittingham said while noting that the junior college transfer took some steps forward. "He's eliminating a lot of the loose ends that have been showing up. He's starting to make fewer mistakes."

The offense, as a whole, drew praise from Whittingham and offensive coordinator Norm Chow.

"We're not there yet but we're close to getting over the hump," Whittingham said. "We did some good things today in practice. We drove the ball well in the scrimmage situation."

The red zone, though, is an area where work still needs to be done. Chow noted a goal-line drill that didn't go so well.

Even so, it didn't overshadow the big picture on a day that Whittingham said belonged to the offense.

Chow noted that progress is being made and everything is getting better.

"We've still got a long ways to go, but it was good today. We moved the ball pretty good," he said. "Our kids are trying. Their legs are gone but the effort is there and there's a lot of good things we can gain from this."

NO WYNN: The absence of Wynn wasn't something Chow is fretting over. In coach-speak, it is what it is.

"We don't have Jordan," Chow said. "We just keep pressing on."

When pressed on the topic, he expounded a bit.

"You're always going to miss a leader. But we can't worry about that," Chow said. "Montana State is not worrying about that. I guarantee you. The guys down at Southern California aren't worried about that either."

KICKING IT: Make some, miss some. That's how Utah's kicking game has fared, thus far, in camp.

"The kicking has been hot and cold," Whittingham said. "(But) it's been getting better."

Although there are still evaluations and practice days left to take place, a place-kicking leader has emerged.

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"If we had to play tomorrow it would be Coleman Petersen," Whittingham said of the competition with Nick Marsh.

EXTRA POINTS: Running back John White (hip pointer) and cornerback Conroy Black (thigh contusion) returned to practice. Whittingham is hopeful that several other injured Utes return in the next couple of days. ... The Utes will begin prepping for opening opponent Montana State when school begins on Monday. ... Former Layton High and Southern Utah running back Karl Williams is making the most of reps at tailback. Whittingham acknowledged he is in the mix for a reserve spot.


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