Utah football: Utes keeping tight tabs on contact in practice
Utah football notes • Team rests veterans as it tries to avoid injuries during two-a-days.
Published: August 11, 2013 07:32PM
Updated: August 20, 2013 05:23PM
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Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Kicker Andy Phillips attempts a point after during the University of Utah's Red-White Spring football game, Saturday April 20, 2013 in Salt Lake City.

The Utah Utes have changed their practice format slightly this year, allowing the veterans to end practice about 20 minutes earlier than the newcomers in some workouts.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the change was made so players could get more rest. The Utes are also mindful about the amount of injuries the team has.

“It’s something you have to keep a handle on as far as how much wear and tear to put on them and how much to push them,” he said. “It’s a fine line between getting work done and diminishing returns of overworking them.”

Whittingham said the Utes are able to get in the same volume of work; they are just being more efficient in the way the team is using the time.

Rest and recovery will be an even bigger priority now that the Utes are in two-a-days, a period that always tests teams’ mental and physical fortitude.

“You’re looking for toughness and to see who isn’t getting into survival mode and can play at a high level start to finish,” Whittingham said. “Not everybody can do that.”

The Utes aren’t the only ones mindful of the physical stress practice brings.

The Pac-12 has implemented new guidelines for contact in hopes of minimizing injuries.

For preseason, on days when teams have two-a-days, full contact is allowed in only one practice while the other is limited to helmets and shoulder pads.

If full-contact practices are scheduled consecutively around one of the two-a-day, full-contact workouts, only one can consist of 50 percent contact.

The Pac-12 defines full contact as any live tackling, live tackling drills or scrimmages.

Whittingham said he didn’t have a problem with the new restrictions, noting the Utes were within those guidelines anyway.

Giving a look

The battle between kickers is progressing, but Whittingham said he wasn’t going to talk about the “pecking order.”

Andy Phillips is penciled in as the starter to replace Coleman Petersen, who went 8-for-13 last year but was just 3-for-6 on attempts of 40 yards or more.

Phillips had the better day Thursday, making several at the end of practice.

Settling in

Sophomore Jason Whittingham, who was moved from linebacker to defensive end in the spring, is settling in well and gives the position some much-needed depth.

“It’s a natural spot for him,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of his nephew. “He’s a lot like Trevor Reilly and Nate Orchard. All three were cut from the same mold.”