Utes' Blechen faces suspension
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Utah safety Brian Blechen, who is expected to be one of Utah's defensive leaders, has been suspended for the first three games of the season, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham announced Monday. The suspension means Blechen, an honorable mention all-Pac 12 player as a sophomore, must sit out the Aug. 30 opener against Northern Colorado as well as the Sept. 7 game at Utah State and the Sept. 15 game against BYU. Blechen was slated to start at strong safety ahead of junior Quade Chappuis, a former walk-on from Lone Peak H.S. who played in every game last year and started once at free safety against Washington. With Blechen out, Chappuis becomes Utah's most experienced player at safety. Free safeties Eric Rowe, Tyron Morris-Edwards and Terrell Reese are all sophomores. Blechen will be allowed to participate in team activities and practices while serving the suspension. The Utes open camp Thursday. Blechen finished the 2011 season with three interceptions and three forced fumbles. He was also third on the team with 78 tackles. Whittingham was not available for comment on Blechen's status. Utah's players report for camp on Wednesday. Whittingham said last week he doesn't expect any of the junior college players to have lengthy delays in joining the Utes as some have in the past. However, the Utes will be without transfer offensive lineman Marc Pouvave who recently tore his Achilles' tendon and is out for the season. Whittingham said there are no immediate plans to move any players from the defensive side to shore up an already thin offensive line.