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Ask him about filling in for Brian Blechen while Blechen serves his three-game suspension, and Utah senior Quade Chappuis noticeably bristles at the notion he might not be able to match Blechen's level of play.

"I've been here a year longer than Brian so I know the defense well," he said.

He might know it well, but now is his chance to prove he can play it well, too.

Chappuis is expected to start for the first three games at strong safety because Blechen is benched after breaking team rules.

Blechen is known for his big-play capabilities because two of his seven interceptions have been game-saving ones.

However, it's clear Chappuis, a product of Alpine, believes he can be a big play kind of guy as well.

The former walk-on from Lone Peak High might not be as flashy a player as Blechen, but he does have a reputation for being a steady contributor. He played in all 13 games last year and finished with 20 tackles. His two best games came against Washington when he had seven tackles and against BYU when he had five tackles with an interception.

Now on scholarship, Chappuis would like to show he can handle the responsibilities that go along with a starting role and trash that reputation as being "just a walk-on," for good.

"I'm going to try and make as much of it as I can," he said of the next three games. "I've been watching as much film as possible and concentrating on getting healthy."

Chappuis injured his shoulder during Utah's camp and was sidelined for several days. Such a setback would be a disadvantage for some, but Chappuis hasn't fallen behind thanks to his work ethic, safeties coach Morgan Scalley said.

"He is one of those guys you just love to coach," he said. "He comes to practice and busts his tail and has progressed year to year. He has worked hard to earn his scholarship, has played well and deserves this opportunity. He'll make the most of his reps."

The Utes do have other options with sophomore Terrell Reese and junior Michael Walker also having strong camps.

But the 5-foot-11, 198-pound Chappuis had the edge over them in camp because he rarely makes mistakes. That steady play is valued especially in Utah's man defense.

"He doesn't miss his assignments and he is fast," Scalley said. "He knows the defense inside and out and that is something you have to have, that consistency. It's definitely his spot to lose."

Chappuis, for one, has no plans to lose it, and said he is up for the challenge.

"I love the way we play defense and the demands on the safety position," he said. "It's a big thing to live up to, the way we play man, but it's going to be fun and I feel good. I feel like I'm playing better and I've really improved."

There is no better time for him to show that improvement than now.

lwodraska@sltrib.comTwitter: @lyawodraska —

Quade Chappuis

5-foot-11, 198-pound junior from Alpine

Of note • Walked on to the team in 2009 and was awarded a scholarship in 2011. ... Had career-best seven tackles against Washington in 2011. ... Played mainly on special teams in 2010. ... Runs a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash.

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