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Tim Patrick has already been peeking at the Los Angeles forecast for Saturday.

"Ninety degrees, man, I already looked it up," he said. "That should be lovely. That should be wonderful for my body."

Patrick — and the Utes — are hopeful that some factor will change to allow his return to the football field against UCLA. Despite missing most of the last three games with an unspecified injury, the senior remains ahead of Utah's other receivers by more than 100 yards (totaling 429 yards and five touchdowns on 24 catches). Patrick took several snaps on Saturday against Oregon State, but wasn't much more than a decoy.

While it was hard to throw period in the wind and rain, Patrick said the weather also wasn't kind to his muscles and ligaments and tightened him up.

"I thought the guys behind me would do better than I could," he said. "There's definitely mutual encouragement. They don't want me to force it and make it worse than it is.

But the guys behind Patrick didn't do much: Utah had four receptions for 42 yards — a season low. Coach Kyle Whittingham said he thought afterward that the coaches should have called for more passing plays.

If Patrick is able to play, that will almost certainly be the case on Saturday against UCLA. But facing a top-10 passing efficiency defense won't be easy. Patrick said while it wasn't fun to review the Oregon State game, the offense is simply trying to move on and forget it.

"We threw [the Oregon State] game out of the window," he said. "We know it's not going to be anything like the last game. Sunny, perfect weather. We're all excited about that."

Barton in line to start

As many hits as football players take, sometimes the sharpest wounds come from their coaches.

After a shaky start to the season, linebacker Cody Barton was eclipsed on the depth chart by Kavika Luafatasaga. Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley said at the time, "he's playing better, and Cody knows it."

"It's not always fun to hear, but it is what it is," Barton said. "Kind of tough to swallow, but you can use that to get better. You can see what [Luafatasaga is] doing good, and look to what you can improve on your game."

The sophomore is in position to get the nod this week as junior Sunia Tauteoli is shelved with an injury of unspecified severity (he was removed from the weekly depth chart).

Barton doesn't lack experience, ranking fourth on the team with 31 total tackles. But the knock on him has been physicality: While he's listed 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, Barton truly might weigh less than that, and he hasn't always been able to bring down opponents the way he wants.

"I can improve on my physicality," he said. "Just sticking my face in there as much as I can."

National nods

Whittingham wasn't the only one impressed by senior running back Joe Williams' triumphant return from retirement this week.

CBS Sports named Williams the national player of the week after he rushed for 179 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries against Oregon State on Saturday. Williams was also Utah's player of the week, as chosen by Utes coaches. named Dennis Erickson the national running backs coach of the week after Williams' performance, in which the Utes totaled 275 rushing yards as a team.

Twitter: @kylegoon