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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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Utes hurting for depth in defense

The Utah Utes said when they joined the Pac-12 a lack of depth was the biggest difference between the Utes and the rest of the league.

Unfortunately, it doesn't appear much has changed.

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While the Utes are encouraged by the progress they've made in adding depth with recent recruiting classes, it is still an issue, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

A hobbled Brian Blechen, a struggling Keith McGill and a no-show in JC transfer Tevin Carter have left the Utes searching for bodies to play defense.

The defensive line took a hit too when Stevie Tu'ikolovatu was sidelined for the season with a foot injury, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Wednesday.

His injury isn't as concerning as some of the others since Utah still has a lot of depth on the defensive line, particularly since senior tackle Latu Heimuli appears to have overcome many of the injuries that hampered him earlier in his career.

But the injuries in the other areas are troubling. Not only are the Utes short in available bodies, but the ones they have are young.

For instance, out of the linebackers, corners and safeties, the only seniors on the depth chart are Blechen, McGill, nickel Michael Walker and strong safety Quade Chappuis.

As Whittingham said before camp started, the learning curve for the youngsters is going to have to be fast. However, no one imagined just how fast it was going to have to be.

- 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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