Utah football notes: Shelby enjoying freedom at end
Derrick Shelby was the good team player for the Utes in 2008, playing at tackle because of a shortage of available players.
Now, his reward. Shelby has been moved back to his natural position at end and is projected to be the starter for the Utes on the left side, while senior Koa Misi starts on the right.
After spending a year feeling pinned inside, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound sophomore said he enjoys the freedom at end more than ever.
"I didn't like it inside, but nobody likes it inside," he said. "Outside, you can use your athleticism, and inside you have two big guys on you all the time. You never get a break."
Nai Fotu , who started at linebacker in 2008, will play some at end too, but coach Kyle Whittingham said he'll be more of a situational player, leaving Shelby to most of the downs.
Shelby said he feels comfortable enough to be the main player.
"Hopefully there won't be much of a dropoff after last year," he said. "I feel like I have pretty good knowledge of the defense. I'm just trying to hone it."
Tempo good for defense, too
Senior safety Robert Johnson said the Utes' faster-paced offense has been good for the defense, too, believing it's helping the already strong defense get in better shape and learn to be solid on the fly, too.
"When we play against a team that plays no huddle, we'll know how to play against it and execute," he said. "It's completely different from last year. We can't look to the sideline and stand still and try and figure out what the offense is doing. It's a new thing; I'm excited to see what they can do with it."
Same old, same old
Even though the Utes have two new coordinators, Whittingham said he didn't feel he had to give either much guidance, partially because both defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake and offensive coordinator Dave Schramm were promoted from within.
"There wasn't much change," he said. "I've been picking my spots, roaming around and making as much evaluations as I can. But we have a lot of continuity, so there aren't a lot of dramatic changes and things just keep going."
What we learned » Tuesday's practice was the first for the Utes in pads, but coach Kyle Whittingham said no major shake-ups occurred in the first day of real live work.
Who was hot » Backup running backs Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin had good days. They are competing to be the No. 1 backup to Matt Asiata.
Who was sidelined » Offensive lineman Zane Beadles sat out with a groin pull that isn't a serious injury. Defensive back Reggie Topps (hamstring strain) and punter Sean Sellwood (strained hip flexor) are also slowed.