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How well are things going for the No. 10 Utes? Well enough that it's worth mentioning that Utah's head coach has been in contact with the athletic director.
Kyle Whittingham has led Utah to wins in 18 of its past 23 games and a general feeling of belonging in the Power 5. And while he was tied to job searches at Michigan and Pittsburgh last December, his sustained success and the unusual amount of midseason openings may have improved his potential options this December.
So what can Chris Hill do to sweeten the sound of staying in Salt Lake City?
"We've communicated," said Hill after Tuesday's Trustees meeting. "He's done a great job, and he knows that."
Miami, South Carolina, Virginia Tech and USC are among the vacancies, and speculation holds that Whittingham might be among the Trojans' top candidates.
Whittingham has said before that few teams can claim to have won many recruiting battles against USC. Before the Trojans ended Utah's undefeated run last month, Whittingham gave the impression that he felt they were a sleeping giant, while politely deferring to the authority of interim coach Clay Helton when asked about his interest in the job.
Hill, who signed Whittingham to a one-year extension to end a period of uncertainty last January, said the focus for both is the here and now.
"We both know that we've got a lot going right now that's great," Hill said. "Let's not get diverted to something that is not going to be focused on the players and winning and having an opportunity that is spectacular."
Paul not satisfied
As the reigning Utah, Pac-12, and Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week, senior linebacker Gionni Paul admits the hardware "makes me feel good inside."
After missing five games with a foot injury last season, Paul was left off the preseason award watch lists while teammates Jared Norris and Jason Whittingham were both among 51 on the radar for the Butkus Award.
None of the three are among the 10 finalists.
But few linebackers can say they've had a game to rival Paul's at Washington. He returned a fumble 54 yards for a touchdown, returned an interception 27 yards and recorded nine tackles and two sacks. He allowed one catch in 44 coverage snaps, according to information provided to The Tribune by Pro Football Focus.
Paul's opinion of the performance: "I grade myself on being perfect, and I go to the film and everybody's like 'Oh man, that's a great catch,' 'That's [this and that].' I'm like, 'Man, I went back door on a play,' 'I missed a tackle, man.'"
Paul, who leads Utah in tackles (84), tackles for loss (12) and turnovers (three interceptions and three fumble recoveries) said he's eager to face Arizona after sitting out last year's Senior Day rout.
"I could have been a run-stopper, I could have made just that one play to get the team over the top, and so I'm trying to watch as much film as possible to help my team beat Arizona this year," he said.
Senior running back Devontae Booker forced seven missed tackles on 34 attempts by Husky defenders and is second in the nation in cumulative rushing production grade, according to Pro Football Focus, at plus-24.2. ... Junior Stevie Tu'ikolovatu had a career game against Washington, finishing with one sack, two tackles for a loss and two fumble recoveries. ... Senior quarterback Travis Wilson was 6-of-15 on passes beyond the line of scrimmage, including 1-of-4 on passes of 20 or more yards. He completed 3-of-7 attempts under pressure but was also sacked once, and Utah continues to rank second in the Pac-12 at sacks allowed, with 12.