Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has emphasized improving the Utes' poor third-down conversion rate against Louisville.
Utah has converted on just 17 of 44 third downs to rank 67th nationally out of 119 teams.
The Utes believe they can help that percentage by avoiding the many third-and-long situations they've found themselves in by using running back Matt Asiata more extensively in first-down situations.
Asiata said he was all for that plan.
"You love to hear coaches say they rely on the running backs," he said. "But whatever coaches put down on the play call, you just have to do it and see."
While Utah's third-down percentage isn't acceptable for the Utes, it is at least better than those of the opponents they've played.
Oregon ranks No. 113 (8 of 36), Utah State is No. 118 (5 of 30) and San Jose State is tied with Kent State for last at No. 119 (6 of 41).
Louisville isn't much better, ranking behind Utah at No. 69 (10 of 26).
Asiata said on Wednesday his injured shoulder felt better than it did against Oregon, although he hesitated to rate how close he was to 100 percent. ... Louisville safety Terrence Simien will miss Saturday's game after suffering a lacerated kidney against Kentucky. He had 10 tackles and an interception in the Cardinals' two games.
He'll be replaced by senior Richard Raglin or senior Daniel Covington .
Veil of secrecy
Utah's practice fields, which are tucked behind the Dee Glen Smith Athletics Center, were further protected from spying eyes Wednesday. Utah's baseball team was enlisted to wrap the newly installed wire fence that surrounds the field in a black cloth that prevents anyone from seeing the field.
Whittingham said the protection was added because he felt the field was too accessible to those who might want to see what the Utes are installing.
Whittingham will join other coaches in wearing a "Coach to Cure MD" arm patch Saturday, designed to build awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. ... Utah sold its final tickets for Saturday's game on Thursday. ... The Utes are 54-30-4 in homecoming games.