SALT LAKE CITY — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham swatted down any thoughts that the Utes might be looking past Montana State and gearing up for USC. They open the season Sept. 1 at home against the Bobcats before facing the Trojans in the Pac-12 opener Sept. 10 in Los Angeles.
"We've had that discussion several times," Whittingham said. "There is no game other than Montana State right now."
Whittingham noted that Montana State held a 22-7 fourth-quarter lead at Washington State last season before getting beat by a late field goal.
"All you've got to do is watch them on tape for about five minutes and they'll get your respect," Whittingham said. "They're a good football team and believe me, there is nothing — human nature or not — on our mind or in vision right now other than Montana State."
COX VISITS: Former Utah standout Christian Cox, who is now with the New England Patriots, stopped by Monday's practice. He suffered a neck injury in the Patriots' preseason opener against Jacksonville. The NFL team flew him home to visit family before he returns to Boston for surgery. Cox will spend the entire 2011 season on injured reserve.
"I'm just grateful the Patriots are who they really are — a classy, honest organization and they're taking care of me," said Cox, who was blindsided after the whistle blew and a flag was thrown on a kickoff that went out of bounds early in the game
Cox was scheduled to see action on defense in the second half.
A NEW BEGINNING: Monday marked the first post-camp practice for the Utes. School has started and two-a-days are now in the rear-view mirror.
Whittingham acknowledged it's a milestone of sorts.
"It signifies that the game is right around the corner. Two-a-days is almost a season in and of itself and once that's behind you, then you start focusing on the game preparation," he said. "So it's a whole different feel once you get out of camp and star preparing for the game."
For seniors like Chaz Walker, though, leaving camp-mode was a little bittersweet.
"I'm going to miss this stuff but it's kind of nice not to run those gassers and be out here a lot," he said after last week's finale. "It's definitely bittersweet. I'm going to miss this stuff."
EXTRA POINTS: Former Baylor wide receiver Josh Gordon has transferred to Utah and practiced with the Utes on Monday . . . Offensive lineman Miles Mason, a junior college transfer from El Camino (Calif.) College, reported on Thursday and is already on the depth chart. The 6-foot-3, 316-pounder is John Cullen's backup at left tackle . . . Wide receiver Griff McNabb tops the depth chart at punt returner . . . Defensive lineman Joape Pela has moved to offense and is No. 2 at center behind Tevita Stevens . . . Offensive linemen Isaac Asiata (ankle) and Percy Taumoelau (knee), as well as defensive lineman Lei Talamaivoa (foot), are doubtful for next week's game against Montana State . . . Wide receiver DeVonte Christopher (ankle), Cullen (concussion) and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (thigh) are expected to resume practice this week.