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The battle for the starting running back role was expected to be one of the most competitive for the Utah Utes going into the 2011 season.

Unfortunately, the competition has been such that the coaches aren't seeing any separation between John White, Harvey Langi and Thretton Palamo.

Langi, the freshman, White the transfer from L.A. Harbor College, and Palamo, the former rugby star, have all had their moments, but not enough to establish a pecking order just yet.

"We'll have one look great for a couple reps then the next guy will do the same thing," coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We're waiting for that guy to step up and take charge."

The Utes hope to get a better idea of the order by Thursday when they hold their first scrimmage.

Standing out

One player who is separating himself from the others is freshman safety Eric Rowe, who is slated to back up Keith McGill at free safety.

Right now sophomore Michael Walker is tabbed to start at strong safety and has had a good camp, but it sounds like Rowe could be threatening that spot.

"We're going to get the two best safeties on the field," Whittingham said. "Nobody has a lock on either safety position. The two best guys will play and we will adjust accordingly.

Not a problem

Quarterback Jordan Wynn isn't allowed to throw more than 100 passes a session, but having a limit shouldn't hamper him too much, the junior believes.

So far he is throwing around 80 passes a day.

"That count is pretty high," he said. "I'm not too worried about it. That is a lot of throwing, almost four games of throws in any given practice, so I don't think I'll do that many."

The only time it could be a factor is when Utah starts two-a-days on Wednesday. Then, Wynn will throw only in the morning, Whittingham said.

Hitting a wall

Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow likes how backup quarterback Jon Hays has played, but says the newcomer might be a bit overwhelmed with all the information he must learn.

"He has hit a wall," Chow said. "Three days in a row, I think he is thinking too much about doing this and this. Once you let him go, he is fine."

Hays continues to be ahead of freshman Tyler Shreve on the depth chart.

Practice points

What we learned • The Utes worked through some 2-minute and third-down situations Saturday. The coaches were extremely pleased with the way the Utes handled the situations.

Who was hot • Safeties Keith McGill and Eric Rowe continue to stand out while freshman receiver Dres Anderson continues to assert himself.

Who was sidelined • Defensive tackle Latu Heimuli suffered a sprained ankle Friday and is still slowed by it. However, the injury isn't thought to be serious and coaches expect him back Monday.

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