SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s starting offensive line is solidifying. The latest depth chart features junior Jeremiah Poutasi at left tackle, senior Junior Salt at left guard, junior Siaosi Aiono at center, sophomore Isaac Asiata at right guard, and sophomore J.J. Dielman at right tackle.
“Since we’ve settled in with the five starters, they’ve had a few days to work together now and I think they’re starting to feel comfortable with each other,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham “It’s a work in progress. We’ll need every practice between now and Idaho State to continue those guys working together and getting in sync.”
Salt, an all-conference candidate who led the Utes with 20 knockdowns last season, said the offensive line already had great chemistry and the arrival of new offensive coordinator Dave Christensen and offensive line coach Jim Harding from Wyoming kind of got them going. The players have made the adjustment to a more up-tempo scheme.
“It was harder in the beginning. We’re getting used to it now and so we can see it’s in our advantage when we’re tiring out the defense,” Salt said. “So hopefully it’s something we can be consistent in.”
Staying healthy, he added, will be another factor.
Salt has confidence in the younger guys on the right side of the line, who are being pushed by freshman guard Salesi Uhatafe and tackle Sam Tevi, as well as the twos.
“Coach Harding does a really, really great job getting us ready,” Salt said. “We’re always working in the shoots — getting our pad level right (and) our feet work. As of right now, I think any of the ones and twos, those guys, are ready to fill in whenever if something happens. That’s a great advantage too.”
The offensive line, Salt continued, is ready to roll.
“It’s been a long, long time since our last game and it’s been hurting. Our guys are definitely hungry this season — more hungry than ever,” he said. “We’ve definitely seen a lot of great things so far. Hopefully we can bring it out on game day.”
BATMAN-A-RAMA: Wide receiver Kenneth Scott gladly accepted a compliment on his shoes after Tuesday’s practice. The junior was sporting Under Armour kicks emblazoned with a Batman logo.
“I appreciate it,” he said after being told the shoes were cool. “It makes me feel like I’m him sometimes.”
Scott, who plans to wear them for Utah’s annual “Blackout Game,” explained his connection with the super hero. It dates back to when he was 4 years old and a cousin bought him a Batman action figure. Scott kept it until he left for college. He then gave it to a younger cousin.
As for Scott’s shoes, they’ve yet to draw attention from everyone in camp.
“I haven’t noticed them,” Whittingham said. “I don’t notice uniforms and shoes and stuff like that.”
Whittingham, though, does like Batman.
“I did when I was a kid. Yeah, you bet. The Bat Cave, Adam West, all that stuff,” he said. “I grew up watching that. It seems like it was on every afternoon as I recall.”
Scott, meanwhile, is gearing up for the season in other ways as well. He’s eager to return to action after suffering a season-ending injury early in last year’s opener against Utah State.
“I’m back to 1,000 percent. I feel real good,” Scott said. “My ankle doesn’t bother me any more. It’s just exciting to be back.”
POLISHING THINGS UP: The Utes have the game plan for their Aug. 28 season opener all mapped out.
“There’s not really anything to add between now and Idaho State,” Whittingham said. “It’s just fine-tuning and just getting repetition and getting the execution better each day.”
BASEBALL FINALE: Monday night’s practice marked the end of camp sessions at Ute Field. The remainder of practices will be held at the stadium or at the football facility.
“I love the baseball field. It’s great. I’m a baseball nut. It was always my favorite sport growing up and so any time I can get on the diamond it’s good,” Whittingham said. “But we appreciate coach (Bill) Kinneberg letting us use it. It’s really been valuable because it allows us not to put the wear and tear on our practice field, which gets beat up pretty quick. We just have the one field and it gets beat up pretty quick. So this is a big help for us.”
Whittingham acknowledged that when camp concludes at the ballpark on Guardsman Way, the season is just around the corner.Comment on this story
EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham gave updates on injured linebackers Gionni Paul and Jacoby Hale. He said Paul is on track to be back for the Michigan game on Sept. 20 or if everything goes perfect, perhaps the Fresno State game on Sept. 6. Hale is more likely a midseason returnee. “We’re just anxiously awaiting those guys getting back in the lineup because we are a little bit thin there,” Whittingham said. ... Bubba Poole is emerging as the front-runner to return punts and Troy McCormick is the top candidate to return kickoffs. Whittingham emphasized that it’s not set in stone, but it's the direction things are headed. ... Tickets are still available for every home game (standing-room only, however, for Oregon and USC). For more information go to UtahUtes.com or call 801-581-UTIX.