SALT LAKE CITY — Although Utah's first press conference of the season was held in one of the trailers adjacent to the construction site of the new football facility, some things never change.

"Like every year at this time, we're excited to get this season started," head coach Kyle Whittingham said as the Utes prepare for Thursday's season-opener against Northern Colorado at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

"Our guys are eager to line up against an opponent and hit someone else other than ourselves," he added.

TWO-DEEP CHANGES: Redshirt freshman Jarrell Oliver has surpassed highly touted junior college transfer Kelvin York for the No. 2 spot at running back behind starter John White. Whittingham said it isn't a matter of York slipping, but more about Oliver improving his pass protection and being one of the pleasant surprises in camp.

"Really it's a two-way tie for second and there is not a lot of separation between the two," Whittingham said. "They will both play. But if I had to say, I would give Jarrell the edge."

Another shift is at wide receiver, where sophomore Kenneth Scott is now listed as a co-starter with senior DeVonte Christopher.

"Every day is a competition," Whittingham said. "Scott has done enough in practice to be a starter."

NO REDSHIRT: Whittingham expects true freshman quarterback Travis Wilson to play this season.

"Our plan is not to redshirt him. We want him to get involved in the mix and in a game situation," Whittingham said. "We will dictate where that takes place. There is no set plan, but we hope to be able to give him the football."

Wilson is third on the season-opening depth chart behind Jordan Wynn and Jon Hays.

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE: Football isn't the only thing on the agenda Thursday. Other activities include "Swoop" the mascot skydiving with Utah and Pac-12 Networks flags. They'll be presented to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott in a pregame ceremony to commemorate the new network's inaugural football broadcast.

At halftime, Utah native Trevor Lewis of the NHL champion Los Angeles Kings will be introduced to the crowd on his day with the Stanley Cup. Fans can celebrate with Lewis at the Maverik Center earlier Thursday from noon-2 p.m.

EXTRA POINTS: Standing room only tickets are still available for the season opener against Northern Colorado. ... Home games against BYU (Sept. 15) and USC (Oct. 4) are completely sold out, as is the allotment of 32,000 season tickets. ... Mat Iandolo, who led the Utah women's tennis team to the second round of the NCAA championships, will receive the 2011-12 Don Reddish Award (top Utah coach outside of basketball, football and gymnastics) during the first-quarter break on Thursday.


Twitter: @DirkFacer