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Utah football: Injuries taking their toll on Utes

Published August 14, 2013 3:42 pm

College football • Jarrell Oliver, Steve Tu'ikolovatu out for season; Tevin Carter an academic casualty
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Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Wednesday he wasn't going to discuss Utah's injuries anymore, probably because the news is too depressing.

Whittingham announced Wednesday that backup running back Jarrell Oliver and defensive tackle Stevie Tu'ikolovatu have been lost for the season with foot injuries.

In addition, linebacker Brian Blechen continues to be slowed with tendinitis and quarterback Travis Wilson has a mild ankle sprain that kept him on the sidelines for precautionary reasons Wednesday.

But the biggest blow involved a player who wasn't even here. Tevin Carter, a 6-foot-1, 2130-pound JC transfer who was expected to earn a starting role at safety couldn't get his academics in order and won't join the team this year, Whittingham said.

"We were counting on him big time, so it's a void for us," he said.

Carter's absence likely means sophomore Charles Henderson, a converted receiver, will start along with junior Eric Rowe.

The Utes are also considering Tyron Morris-Edwards, a junior who played in nine games, for the starting role but Whittingham said he likes Henderson's aggressive nature.

"He has good quickness and good size," he said.

As for Wilson, Whittingham expects he will be ready to participate in Saturday's scrimmage.

Wilson injured his ankle in early in Tuesday's scrimmage and watched the rest of the session from the sidelines. He dressed Wednesday and jogged off the field

"We don't think it's anything other than a mild sprain," Whittingham said.

Unfortunately for Blechen, his issues seem to be more serious.

An honorable mention all-Pac-12 player in 2012, Blechen continues to see limited reps due to lingering injuries.

"We need him out there more, if he expects to play this year," Whittingham said.

Point of emphasis

The Utes' priority on offense after reviewing tape of Tuesday's scrimmage is getting better in the passing game.

Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson said the Utes have to get better in protection and running routes.

"That is what is going to take us over the top," he said.

The Utes averaged just 190.7 yards passing last year.

"The throw game still is not anywhere good enough," Whittingham added. "It wasn't good enough last year and no one respected it in the conference and no one will respect it this year again until we prove to them they have to."

Grand opening

The Utes will have a grand opening for the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center on Thursday. There will be a ribbon cutting and private tour of the $32 million, 150,000 square-foot football facility.

The event is not open to the general public.




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