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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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Utah's Whittingham not afraid to call out players

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham starts fall camp by telling the team the effort is fine - if they want to be 5-7. Then he calls out Carlos Lozano for not losing enough weight to participate, is upset a hamstring injury has sidelined receiver Andre Lewis and is critical of corner Keith McGill for being at "safety weight, not corner," weight.

Is Whittingham in a bad mood this week or is there something more to his demeanor? We're going with the latter.

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Whittingham, who is entering his ninth year as head coach of the Utes, is 71-32 overall but just 7-11 in Pac-12 games.

The general sentiment is this is the season his team must show some improvement in conference play. Perhaps his frankness in being critical of individual players is making sure his team feels some pressure too.

"We have to get better," he said. "Last year was just unacceptable and we were disappointed in the way they came out yesterday."

So could there be a lack of leadership or heart in this team that fans should worry about? No, said Whittingham.

"They responded today," he said Tuesday. "There would be a bigger problem if they didn't respond so we feel pretty good about that."

But as for the pressure and criticism coming from him? Don't expect it to let up any time soon.

A few other notes from Tuesday:

Slow going: Utah senior linebacker Brian Blechen continues to be slowed by many of the injuries that hampered him in spring.

Whittingham said his absence is "disappointing," and added the trainers oversee how many reps he can handle since the injuries are related to overuse.

"Mentally it's not an issue as far as that goes," he said. "He's one tough kid. You know if he isn't out there - he is a football junkie and for him not to be out there is tough."

In the pit: Freshman quarterback Micah Thomas joined Lewis and Lozano on the sidelines with a pulled hamstring.

On the tube: The Pac-12 Networks is launching a series that begins on Thursday which focuses on each team's training camp. Host Mike Yam and analyst Rick Neuheisel are anchoring the 30-minute shows.

Utah will be featured in Friday's broadcast, set to air at 8 p.m.

- Lya Wodraska

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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