Utah football notes: Thursday start to season well received
Early start gives the team extra days to analyze, prepare for its next opponent.
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The Utah-Utah State game was moved from Saturday to Thursday so as not to interfere with Labor Day weekend plans.

But the early kickoff turned out to be just as convenient for Utah as it was for fans, giving coach Kyle Whittingham the idea to schedule earlier games in the future when possible.

Starting the season on a Thursday instead of Saturday has given the Utes two extra days to analyze the Utah State game, make some necessary adjustments and then focus on Saturday's game at San Jose State.

The scheduling has worked so well, Whittingham said he'd like to have more Thursday, season-opening games in the future.

"I don't like Fridays as much because of high school games, but to open on a Thursday is an advantage," he said. "There are a lot of teams doing that and I don't see a disadvantage to it."

The Utes watched film together on Friday, took Saturday and Sunday off and had a more vigorous practice than usual on Monday that was geared toward San Jose State.

"We got everything corrected then moved on, it's a big advantage," Whittingham said.

No judgment

As for exact preparations for San Jose State, the Utes aren't using the Spartans' 56-3 loss at USC as much judgment for the quality of opponent they'll face since the Spartans were playing USC after all.

The Spartans were 1 of 16 on third down conversions and were outgained 620 yards to 121.

While some could consider it a trap game, coming the week before the Oregon game, Whittingham said trap games only exist if teams allow them to do so. He doesn't plan to let his Utes fall into that mentality.

"We have to show up and play consistent football and make plays," he said.

QB mystery

San Jose State coach Dick Tomey said during Monday's WAC teleconference a decision will be made later in the week whether to start Kyle Reed (9 of 17 for 66 yards) or Jordan La Secla (5 of 10 for 43 yards) at quarterback against the Utes.

"There isn't much difference between the two," he said. "We want some separation by the time we get into conference play."

No Key, no problem

Two much talked about receivers, Aiona Key and DeVonte Christopher , went without a reception in the opener against Utah State.

Senior David Reed had 10 catches for 172 yards to lead the group of five receivers who had catches.

Whittingham said that while he'd like to see quarterback Terrance Cain spread the ball around more, he was pleased with Key's blocking, which is why he was the team's offensive player of the week.

"He blocked his tail off," he said. "He performed great. To me, what you do without the ball is sometimes more important than what you do with it."

How far up?

Whittingham said he believes a team from the MWC could play for a national title, as long as it starts the season high in the polls.

The Utes weren't ranked last year in the preseason and finished No. 2 in the AP poll and No. 4 in the USA Today/Coaches poll.

The Utes are ranked No. 17 in the coaches and AP poll this week.

"If you can get in the early rankings, as far as somewhere inside of 15, you'd have to run the table and get some help along the way, even then it's still not a guarantee," he said. "It's a possibility, but a lot of things have to line up for it to happen."

However, he said any talk of the BCS is "ridiculous" at this point.

"There is so much football left, you have to improve week to week," he said.

"We're certainly off to a good start but that is all it is, a start."

wodraska@sltrib.com