For players, two-a-days may be the worst part of the entire football season. They have to practice twice a day and there's no game at the end of the week as a reward.
The Utah football team started two-a-days Saturday with a morning session at the practice field and one in the afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium that ended at 6:40 p.m.
"We hate it, but we know it's worth it," said safety Robert Johnson. "It's not the funnest thing, but it's fun to play against your teammates and see who's going to do what."
Coach Kyle Whittingham wasn't exactly doing cartwheels at the end of the day.
"It was an OK day, an average day, not a great day," he said. "It's kind of an indoctrination process. I think everyone will get in the swing of things."
Running back Matt Asiata, sat out of the afternoon session after tweaking his ankle in the morning practice. Whittingham wasn't overly concerned and said it wasn't related to Asiata's foot injury that kept him out for much of last year's fall camp.
"He rolled it this morning and it stiffened up between practices," Whittingham said. "It has nothing to do with last year's injury."
Otherwise, the Ute players went through drills in shoulder pads and shorts in the afternoon. They finished with 20 minutes of work on the two-minute offense, followed by eight reps of wind sprints across the field and back.
UNWELCOME MUSIC: As the Utes practiced Saturday afternoon, the Michigan fight song "Hail to the Victors" blared from speakers on the east side of the field over and over. It wasn't that loud until the very end of practice.
It may have reminded the Utes of their first opponent Aug. 30, but Whittingham said there was no real purpose to it, although it may have gotten on the nerves of some of the players.
"It was just today," Whittingham said. "It may not show up the rest of camp."
INJURY UPDATE: Besides Asiata, two other Utes were injured in the morning session. Wide receiver David Reed tweaked his groin and was held out of the afternoon practice for precautionary reasons. He'll likely be back on the field on Monday.
"He could probably go but we don't want to risk making it worse," said Whittingham, who stressed Reed's injury was a slight strain and not a pull.
The status of defensive lineman Thor Salanoa is less certain. The freshman will have an x-ray Monday to determine if he has a broken left hand.
In other injury news:
• Tight end Nelia A'asa, who had a sore knee scoped earlier in the week, put it to work on a stationary bike. His target date to return is Aug. 18.
• Cornerback Brice McCain twisted his ankle Friday, but was going full-speed on it Saturday morning.
DOUBLE DAY APPROACH: Even though Whittingham acknowledged it wasn't his team's best practice of camp, he did say Saturday morning's session in full pads was a "step forward."
The Utes, he added, got a lot work done.
Whittingham and the coaching staff plan to use the morning practice of the double sessions for full-pad work and the practice later in the day for a lighter workout in half pads.
BACK IN THE MIX: For obvious reasons, Whittingham is glad to see defensive end Paul Kruger back on the field. The sophomore has fully recovered from injuries suffered when he was stabbed by unknown assailants while leaving a Salt Lake City party in January.
Whittingham said it's great to have him back on the field and called Kruger "a soldier" for overcoming adversity.
The coach recalled the night he received news that Kruger and teammate Greg Newman had been stabbed.
"First of all shock. In all my years of coaching I've never been through anything like that," Whittingham recalled. "So it was something that caught me off-guard. But, fortunately, we were able to get both of those guys back both (Paul) and Greg Newman. They're very lucky to be here."
Kruger's younger brother David, a Ute recruit at the time, was also injured in the attack. All three players are currently participating in Utah's camp.
BIG ADDITION: When Snow College defensive end James Aiono recently
decided to re-commit to Utah, the Utes picked up more than just a
talented, 6-foot-3, 275-pound Murray High School alum.
They added a first-team All-American and a Scout.com five-star
Aiono, who helped Snow's defense lead the nation by allowing just
186 yards per game last season, originally committed to Utah out of high school.
This time around, he'll join the the Utes in 2009 (signing a letter-of-intent in February) after playing one more season for the Badgers.