Utah running back Matt Asiata isn't looking back on injuries that have slowed him the past two camps. The junior has his sights set on the future.

"I've got to look forward and just help my team out," said Asiata, who had foot trouble a year ago and a mild ankle sprain this time around. He's expected to resume practicing again today.

"My ankle is getting better every day," Asiata said. "I'm getting treatment every day."

As such, Whittingham hasn't waffled in his declaration that Darrell Mack and Asiata are 1 and 1-A on the depth chart at tailback.

"He's mentally where he needs to be. We've just got to continue to get him reps," Whittingham said of Asiata. "We don't expect this to set him back. We're still over two weeks out from the game (Aug. 30 at Michigan). We've got plenty of time to get him ready."

Despite the camp woes and a broken leg suffered in last year's opening loss at Oregon State, Whittingham insists Asiata is durable — noting he wasn't hurt during his career at Hunter High and Snow College.

"I think he's had just a little bit of bad luck," Whittingham said. "We think he's a guy that's going to be a big factor for us this year."

OVER THE HUMP: Utah's most grueling week of camp — featuring three two-a-days, a pair of scrimmages and one single practice day — is more than halfway complete. Whittingham said Thursday's practice at Ute Field was an extremely tough and physical practice.

"Another one of the dog days," he explained. "The epitome of a dog day."

The Utes, however, did well. They even endured some unexpected pain — additional sprints at the end of practice.

"We test their courage every once in a while and today we did it," Whittingham said. "They passed. They did a nice job."

REST OF CAMP: The Utes' final week of workouts before school starts on Aug. 25 includes two-a-days on Monday and Wednesday (scrimmage and practice) with single sessions set for Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The latter includes the annual Fan Fest at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Fans can mingle with the football team from noon-1 p.m.

BUTKUS LIST: Junior linebacker Stevenson Sylvester, who made 86 tackles last season, is on the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award. Sylvester joins teammates Louie Sakoda (Ray Guy Award) and Brian Johnson (Golden Arm Award) on watch lists.

EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said there is nothing new on the Aiona Key situation. The highly touted wide receiver is still waiting for his final junior college grade to be posted. ... True freshman David Kruger is still in the mix at defensive tackle. Whittingham said Paul Kruger's younger brother is figuring things out at a position he's never played. ... "The Pit" was busy throughout the practice, but no serious injuries reported.


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