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For much of the final 20 minutes of Monday's practice session, the defense had a strong read on Utah's running backs. They closed up holes and creases that the backs had pounded through on Saturday.

So senior Joe Williams found another way to burn them, leaping for a sideline catch from Brandon Cox.

While coach Kyle Whittingham consistently says the Utes won't give any one back the same load Devontae Booker had last year, Williams is on a mission to prove that maybe he can take it.

"I'm just going to do what I can do," he said. "[Touches] can be anything from 20 to 30-plus. … I just want to do everything I can for the team, whether it's running the ball, catching out the backfield, kick returns, punt returns. Anything that's going to help us get the W this year."

Already known as the fastest-recorded Ute in spring conditioning drills, Williams has notably boosted his physical power and weighs about 208 pounds. On the first day of padded practice, he gashed the defense for big runs — prompting linebacker Sunia Tauteoli to admit that Williams was hitting harder than he was in spring.

Williams said closer attention to his workouts and nutrition has helped him get stronger. He's cut out Skittles, among other junk foods, in the name of becoming a more reliable runner.

Fans are probably most concerned about his ball security after he fumbled in key moments last year in relief of Booker. Williams said he's worked on that as much as any part of his game, working on making both hands equally secure no matter which way he's running.

"He can probably handle more than he did last year," Whittingham said. "But it's still not a Devontae Booker load."

Dielman gets more reps at center

While Whittingham has said there's still experimenting and competition at center, Utah's lineups suggest that it is close to shoring up the middle of the offensive line.

For the fourth straight practice, senior J.J. Dielman snapped for the first-team offense, playing outside his previous position at tackle. While Whittingham has said the lineup isn't a "done deal," but said Dielman played "really flawless" on snaps on Monday morning.

The tackles also look close to set, with junior Garett Bolles continuing to see first-team reps at left tackle and senior Sam Tevi at right tackle. Whittingham said sophomore Jackson Barton is still in contention to start at either tackle spot, and Dielman moving back tackle would be fourth option.

Depth chart changes

The Utes released an updated depth chart on Monday morning, with tweaks mostly due to Cory Butler-Byrd's suspension from the team.

Junior receiver Kyle Fulks is listed as the starting slot receiver, backed up by senior Tyler Cooperwood and freshman Demari Simpkins. Williams and junior Troy McCormick are listed as the top candidates on kick returns.

The only other adjustment was at left guard, where freshman Johnny Capra is now listed as Isaac Asiata's back-up.

The Utes also officially announced that freshman lineman Scott Peck is out for the season. The 2016 signee has been seen at practice on crutches, and Whittingham said prior to camp that he wasn't expected back for several months at least. Twitter: @kylegoon