Utah football: Brian Blechen back in action for Utes
Brian Blechen was on the field Saturday, but he still isn't in the clear.
Blechen, a senior who is projected as Utah's starting stud linebacker, hasn't been able to practice much because of tendinitis in his knees.
However, he was able to make his presence known Saturday as he snagged the day's only interception.
While there was some relief in having him on the field, Utah's coaches remain uncommitted as to how Blechen might fit into their plans this year.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he wants to study tape before making any decisions.
"He knows where he is at, it's no secret," Whittingham said.
Blechen does have a redshirt year, but benching him for the year would leave Utah's linebackers without a senior leader.
"It's really day by day how he performs right now," Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake said. "He just hasn't gotten enough practice to compete and beat out the other guys."
Blechen said he wants to play this year and is doing what he can to be ready.
"I'm totally focused on camp," he said.
The Associated Press released its first poll Saturday with Oregon and Stanford checking in at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Alabama is ranked No. 1, followed by Ohio State.
Other Pac-12 teams in the poll are UCLA at No. 21, USC at No. 24 and Oregon State at No. 25.
The rankings make Utah's October schedule seem that much tougher since Utah hosts UCLA on Oct. 3 and hosts Stanford on Oct. 12, then plays at Arizona on Oct. 19 before traveling to USC.
Receiver Andre Lewis, who has returned to practice this week after missing most of the first week with a hamstring pull, said it won't take him long to catch up.
"It was a long week," he said of being sidelined. "They said it would be two or three weeks but I worked my butt off in the training room to get the best treatment possible and get back out here."
Lewis said he is leaning on the veteran receivers for insight. Being with the team during summer workouts has helped him, too.
"The speed of the game takes some adjusting to but at the same time athletes have to adapt and I want to do that quickly."