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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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Blechen's absence on field putting his year in jeopardy for Utes

Only a few weeks ago Utah senior linebacker Brian Blechen was eager to get on the field and end his career with a big year.

Now, the Utes would just like to have him on the field.

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Blechen's practice time continues to be limited due to tendinitis. It was apparent following Friday's morning session that Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is losing patience with the situation.

"If he doesn't get out there soon, we just have to move past him," Whittingham said. "We have to. There is no other way, no other alternative."

Whittingham said the Utes could make a decision what to do next week.

"If guys still aren't out on the field we have move past them, that is just how it is," he said.

Blechen does have a redshirt year available, but his presence is needed now more than later.

He is the only senior among the linebackers on the depth chart and is one of the most experienced players on the team, having started since his freshman season.

His backup is projected to be Jacoby Hale, a junior who played in seven games last year before suffering a season-ending injury.

Other linebackers on the depth chart are junior V.J. Fehoko, sophomore LT Filiaga, sophomore Jared Norris and freshman Uaea Masina. Only Fehoko and Filiaga started games last year with Fehoko getting six starts and Filiaga starting two games.

If the linebackers was the only inexperienced group among the defenders the Utes might be able to make up for the deficit with standout play in other areas. But given the depth and experience issues at corner and safety, the Utes' defense suddenly seems very suspect.

Scrimmage time: The good news out of Friday's morning session came from quarterback Travis Wilson, who said he is ready to go in Saturday's scrimmage.

He knows the pressure is on the passing game to perform better and said the Utes can improve.

"We have to make sure we are good on the timing and running the right routes," he said. "We've seen the mistakes on film and we definitely need to get them corrected."

Whittingham said the Utes will run through about 90 plays. Position battles that remain undecided are at backup quarterback, running back and and corner.

- 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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