The highly anticipated combination of having defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Junior Salt on the field together for the Utes won’t happen as Salt, a 6-foot-4, 330-pound junior college transfer, is out for the season with a broken foot.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Salt will redshirt and tried to make the best of the situation by pointing out the Utes have plenty of depth along the defensive line.
“It might be a positive thing in the big picture since Star graduates and Junior can come back as a junior,” he said.
Still, losing the transfer for the year is disappointing. Penciled in as a backup to senior Dave Kruger, Salt has had a strong camp and was expected to play extensively.
Whittingham said the Utes were unsure when the injury happened, but that Salt’s foot has been bothering him recently. The break was discovered during an exam on Thursday.
Also sidelined is backup defensive lineman Niasi Leota, who had an appendectomy Friday morning. He is the second Ute to suffer from appendicitis. Freshman defensive back Alphonso Marsh is missing camp after surgery for the ailment.
“I can’t ever remember having two like this in camp,” Whittingham said.
Senior defensive back Lewis Walker is out as well due to stress fractures in his legs.
Whittingham said none of the injuries was sustained in Thursday’s scrimmage.
“We came out of that clean, it’s pre-existing,” he said. “The whole country is in a similar situation to one degree or another. You just have to keep moving forward.”
What had to be the scariest hit of Friday’s morning session came late when freshman quarterback Travis Wilson went airborne trying get a few extra yards.
He was rocked by cornerback Mo Lee and stayed on the turf for a minute before finally getting up. Wilson finished practice and later admitted he needs to learn to stay on his feet.
He took a big tumble during Thursday’s practice, too.
“I need to start learning how to dive and I’ll work on that,” he said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team and keep the drive alive.”
Whittingham said freshman quarterback Chase Hansen’s shoulder surgery went well. “He should be 100 percent when he returns,” he said. “He is starting rehab on Monday and he should have it just about complete before he goes on his mission then he can finish it on his own.”
Hansen is leaving on a mission in December so he won’t play for the Utes until 2015.
What we learned • Thursday’s scrimmage didn’t lead to much separation in the position battles. The Utes hope to decide which players will be on the travel squad following Tuesday’s scrimmage.
Who looked good • Corner Mo Lee continues to be a standout, even when he is taking out the Utes’ quarterback.
What is next • The Utes plan for a physical practice Saturday after Friday afternoon’s short practice.