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Matt Piper and Kyle Goon
Matt Piper and Kyle Goon cover University of Utah sports teams for The Salt Lake Tribune. Matt Piper is on twitter at @matthew_piper, Kyle Goon is on twitter at @kylegoon

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Rest for the weary? Not for Utah's backups

Normally rest is the top priority for football players in their time off between sessions of two-a-days. However, it sounds like many of Utah's players had better spend this afternoon studying before their next practice tonight.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham was happy with the way the starters practiced, but as for the others, he couldn't find anything positive to say.

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"They ddidn't do a good job with the block schemes," he said. "The center-quarterback exchange wasn't good, something basic as the c-q exchange wasn't good so there really was no bright spot with the twos. Without Vyncent (Jones) and Miles (Mason), that necessitated putting some guys in with the twos that have little or no experience but like I said they have to get in their playbooks and get up to speed. It's not a crisis and it's something to be expected in a way but still when you drop two you have to step up and perform."

Jones and Mason are offensive linemen who continue to be sidelined with injuries and could be out for several weeks.

Whittingham's criticism of the backups is an almost annual occurrence for him during camp. It seems he often likes to challenge the second and third string guys every year by singling them out at some point.

It's hard to argue with his tactic though since the Utes rarely have much of a dropoff from the first to second string once the season starts.

A couple of the backups who are having good camps include freshman lineman Kala Friel, safety Terrell Reese, receiver Sean Fitzgerald and tight ends Westlee Tonga and Jake Murphy.

Another player to watch is linebacker Jason Whittingham, the coach's nephew who is taking some reps with the starters.

"He is really having a good camp as far as his pass rush," Kyle Whittingham said. "We bring that strong side off the edge quite often and he has a real feel for rushing the quarterback."

As for the tight ends, Tonga, Murphy, David Rolf, Dallin Rogers and Kendrick Moeai have all looked solid and they form a group Whittingham is excited to see on the field.

"No one is separating themselves but they all will play a role for us," he said.

Moeai (shoulder) and Rogers (knee) missed spring ball while recovering from injuries.

Receiver Anthony Denham returned to practice after being sidelined with knee tendinitis.

Whittingham anticipated another hard practice this afternoon.

"The physicality will still be there," he said. "It will be shorter, but training camp is a grind, that is what it is meant to be."


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