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Utah and Oregon State are set to kick off the season Thursday. Any chance of moving that opener up a couple days?
"Light," has been the overall theme for the Utes in practice the last week as practices have been kept short, with very little contact. Apparently the coaches feel good enough about the team's preparation that they're ready for Oregon State.
Sure, little details can always be improved or tweaked, but the Utes are stressing more about being fresh for the opener than spending long hours on the field cramming.
"We're not going to stay on the field just to stay on the field," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said after Saturday's practice. "We've got a veteran offense and usually it takes the offense a little longer to come around. The defense tends to develop faster, but it has been a rapid process for the offense with 10 returning starters."
Actually, one of those veteran starters, Jason Boone, was lost for the season when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament during camp.
However, Zane Beadles has moved over to his spot and is doing well, Whittingham said, while Corey Seiuli has excelled in Beadles' former left guard position.
"Luckily, the injury came very early in camp and that allowed us a lot of time to make adjustments," Whittingham said. "Beadles has made a seamless transition and Corey is a natural guard, so that has gone very well."
Senior safety Steve Tate said this is the best-prepared Ute team he has been a part of, and he attributed much of the team's readiness to the strong summer workouts.
"It has been a 180-degree difference from last year," he said. "Physically we're a lot more ready and it's good the coaches have lightened it up to make sure we're fresh for Thursday. We're tired of hitting each other; we want to see some other mugs out there."
Bring the noise
The Utes have been piping in crowd noise to help the team get ready for a hostile atmosphere in Corvallis. Even though a few speakers can't produce the same noise as thousands of screaming fans, it still gives the offense an idea of what to expect on the road, receiver Brian Hernandez said.
"It helps us with the checks," he said. "Once the play gets going in the games, you don't really notice the noise, but it's good now to help us adjust."
Whittingham reiterated that Marquis Wilson's status with the team will remain active until his case for misdemeanor drunken driving and possession of alcohol by a minor are resolved. The case has been delayed for several months and Whittingham said he'll wait until it ends before weighing any more suspensions for Wilson, who was suspended from spring practice. Until then, "he'll play," Whittingham said. . . . Running backs Matt Asiata and Ray Stowers got the most reps with the first team Saturday. . . . The Kyle Whittingham Show on 700 AM starts Tuesday. The show will air live from 7-8 p.m., from Famous Dave's Barbeque in Midvale. Whittingam will take phone calls and field questions from the audience at the restaurant and answer e-mails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.