Utah football: Whittingham not keen on stricter rules on fouls
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Utah coach Kyle Whittingham isn't overly excited about a new rule for college football this season that calls for stricter enforcement of flagrant personal fouls.

Officials are being encouraged to eject players for deliberate hits above the shoulders on defenseless players.

In addition, any flagrant foul will automatically trigger a review by the conference.

Whittingham said he was surprised how flagrant fouls were defined when he reviewed the tapes provided by the NCAA Football Rules Committee.

"If it's going to be called like it is on tape, it's going to be a dramatic change," he said. "Hits that I thought, 'That's just football,' there was a flag. We'll see; it's a judgement call."

The tighter restrictions are in place to better protect players, but Whittingham worries the restrictions might go too far.

"You never want to curb aggression," he said. "You have to be physical. Those DBs are in there and plays are bang, bang and things happen so fast. It's hard to sit there and be concerned if a hit is going to be late."

Utah linebacker Stevenson Sylvester wasn't happy to hear about the rule changes either.

"I look at it as they're trying to make me a softer player and you can't do that," he said. "They're just adding more rules to let the offense score more points."

Clamping down on flagrant fouls is one of the few rule changes for 2009. Other minor changes included redefining the rules for roughing the kicker. Now if the punter carries the ball outside the tackle box, he loses protections provided to a kicker.

Also approved was a request to allow teams to wear colored jerseys as long as they are clearly contrasting in color when approved by conference officials and when both teams are in agreement.

If no agreement is reached, the visiting team will wear white.

Whittingham said there had been no discussions of jersey color for games.

Safeties need depth

Even though plans were to redshirt Corbin Louks this year and let him learn the safety position better, his transfer to Nevada means the Utes have one less option at safety this season, an area that is a little thin in available bodies.

Joe Dale and Robert Johnson are returning starters and Justin Taplin-Ross is a solid backup, but beyond those three the Utes are still searching for players who can contribute.

Victor Spikes , a freshman from Beaumont, Texas, who didn't play his senior year in high school, is listed as Johnson's backup.

Another freshman, Chris Washington , is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

Safeties coach Morgan Scalley said Greg Bird , a sophomore from Mesa, Ariz., has done well in practice recently as has Jarrad Stewart , a freshman from Houston, but the new players are still in the learning process.

"It's a different deal, going to Division I football because the speed picks up and the terminology is different," Scalley said. "We have some good veterans in there, but a great part of being successful is staying injury free. It's my job to develop depth. We've got two weeks."

lwodraska@sltrib.com