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It couldn't have been that much of a surprise given that he had approved a camera crew to follow him for the whole season, but Kyle Whittingham still seemed a little unclear on filming protocols.

The crew of The Drive told him he had to wear a mic whenever they were filming — in practices, meetings and games.

Whittingham's response: Huh?

"We said, 'Well, that's how it works,'" said Kirk Reynolds, a spokesman for Pac-12 Networks. "He ended up being fine with it, and it's worked out great."

Whittingham could probably list many things he'd rather do than pose for a camera, but The Drive is different, capturing the Utah football program during scrimmages and in games. The HD cameras and slow-mo segments increase the awe factor.

The Drive premiered on Wednesday night on the Pac-12 Networks, with media getting a preview a few hours before airtime. The first episode of the season — which also features Gary Andersen-led Oregon State — distilled roughly 50 hours of footage per team into 30 minutes.

The style emulates the behind-the-scenes feel of the HBO's Hard Knocks, but producer Michael Tolajian said the operation is significantly smaller, with only 3 to 5 cameras shooting at any time. Many programs are already used to the exposure thanks to televised games and university camera crews filming promotional material.

"We're a small stealthy crew," he said. "We try to let the drama unfold."

Most of that drama in the season's first episode unfolds around Utah's season-opening win over Michigan, including linebacker Gionni Paul's apology to the locker room after committing a pair of personal fouls. But other segments — including coaches meeting discussing Travis Wilson after a lackluster scrimmage — provide rarely seen windows into the action before and after games.

There's also fun parts: post-game celebrations, a coach awarding a walk-on player a scholarship, and candy bar giveaways after practice. There's also a shot of Whittingham's calves, a wink and nod to that peculiar fan fascination.

Expect more of those pieces, as well as more individual-driven story lines as the season rolls along. The Drive will air weekly on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. MT.

Corner rotation still open competition

While it seems like Dominique Hatfield didn't take long to retake his starting corner job against Fresno State, cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah said nothing is set in stone.

Right now, he has a few cornerbacks he thinks can start. They'll have to win their jobs every week.

"Nobody's taken anybody's starting job," Shah said. "I determine who starts every single week based on how they perform in practice. Easily this week, I could have two different starters."

Since Hatfield came back into the mix against Utah State, the rotation has chiefly been him, Reggie Porter and Cory Butler-Byrd with most of the reps.

Shah said Hatfield has played well, but is still rounding into shape. The others, he said, haven't sulked with Hatfield taking more reps in games. It's simply more competitive in position drills.

"To have a good player back in the fold, it increases the level of not only everybody's expectations but productivity in practice," he said. "For that, I'm happy."

Whittingham hinted Butler-Byrd, who returned a Fresno State kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown on Saturday, will see offensive snaps as the season continues. But Shah doesn't see that as a detriment.

"That's a blessing for everybody," he said. "If he can be utilized in that way, that's great. Nobody's being stingy. We want to win."

'Chunk yardage' comes in different forms

While Whittingham's comments about "chunk yardage" may have fans daydreaming about a deep passing game, Kenneth Scott wants to clarify.

The Utes' offensive scheme has been described as "dink-and-dunk" by players. But while a good deep ball is nice once in a while, Scott said the goal for the Utes is to make a short-to-midrange throw that positions the receiver for a big gain after the catch.

"People think chunk yardage means throwing a 60-yard bomb, and it's really not that," he said. "What it really means is catching a slant, breaking a tackle, getting 15-plus more yards. It doesn't mean you have to throw it so many yards down the field."

The Utes are working on timing, routes and communication, he said. Against Oregon, the quarterbacks will aim to hit receivers in stride, while receivers will aim to break tackles and getting into sprints after the catch.

Utah's longest gain this season is a 43-yard catch by Devontae Booker — and no one else has a reception over 30 yards. Scott said the team is mindful of this stat, and hopes to change it this weekend.


There's no final call on which quarterback, Travis Wilson or Kendal Thompson, will start in Eugene. Kyle Whittingham said he'll likely make a call on Thursday and won't announce the starter "until the guy trots out there." … Defensive end Hunter Dimick could be a game-time decision. Dimick was injured against Utah State, and missed a start against Fresno State. He was in uniform during Wednesday's practice. … One of Utah's practice drills was onsides kick recovery on Wednesday. The team gave up an onside kick to the Bulldogs in the last game. Kicker Andy Phillips was among the participants on the "hands" team.

Twitter: @kylegoon