Rain fell throughout much of Utah's first day in full pads.

Head coach Kyle Whittingham called it a "mild drizzle," however, and said it wasn't a factor in the Utes' fifth practice of camp.

"We got a lot done and guys are starting to separate themselves," Whittingham said after leaving the field. "It was good work, just like we've seen the first four days, as far as the hustle and the intensity."

Friday's practice included 20 live reps, highlighted by a 70-yard touchdown run by Matt Asiata. The junior was one of four players to draw praise from Whittingham after the two-hour workout.

Wide receiver David Reed, safety Deshawn Richard and defensive tackle Sealver Siliga were the others.

"Those four guys really did some good things today," said Whittingham, who noted that Richard is in the mix for a starting safety spot and Siliga is "showing promise" as a true freshman.

"It went well," quarterback Brian Johnson said of the first practice in full gear. "Guys are out here competing, flying around, having a good time and getting the work done."

Everything is starting to get installed, he added, as the Utes refine their schemes and improve each day.

"We've been out here working hard for the past five days," Johnson said. "That soreness is starting to kick in. Now we've got our first two-a-day tomorrow. We've just got to keep pushing through it and keep grinding."

The Utes do so on a healthy note. Aside from tight end Neli A'asa, who is expected to miss 10 days after having a sore knee scoped, the lone injury of note is an ankle sprain suffered by cornerback Brice McCain. The senior twisted his ankle midway through Friday's practice, but left practice on his own power with his left shoe heavily taped.

McCain said he expects to participate in Saturday's double session along with more than 100 of his teammates.

Whittingham said the Utes are ready to roll.

"The first two-a-day comes at a good time with a day off following," he noted. The team will take Sunday off before another two-a-day on Monday.

TWO IN THE BACKFIELD: While acknowledging that Asiata and Darrell Mack are distancing themselves from the pack at running back, Whittingham addressed the likelihood of having both players on the field at the same time.

"We are going to play to our strengths and get the best 11 out there," Whittingham said. "If they turn out to be two of our best 11, which right now it's looking that way, we'll make the necessary adjustments for that."

EXTRA POINTS: Defensive lineman James Aiono, a Snow College All-American who committed to the Utes after a stellar career at Murray High School, plans to sign a letter of intent with Utah in February ... Camp moves from the practice field to the Ute Baseball Field on Monday ... Scrimmages are planned for Rice-Eccles Stadium next Tuesday and Saturday, as well as Aug. 20.


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com