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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 need today's game to help develop young talent

Weber State probably doesn't seem like the most interesting opponent for the Utes today, with most predicting a Utah blowout. Count me in that group as well.

But this game could be crucial to Utah's success this year. Here is why. Ideally Utah will put the Wildcats away early which would allow a lot of time for the backups to play.

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Those are the guys I am really interested in seeing play. Since media access has been extremely limited this year, it is hard to see how the backups are developing. More and more, those guys aren't going to be considered backups but significant role players.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said this week that with the uptempo pace the majority of teams have adopted, the days of having 11 starters who played most of the game are over. Teams need two deeps that can rotate into the game without a dropoff in talent.

The Utes have used that tactic on defense successfully, wearing down teams with a consistent rotation of fresh bodies up front.

Last year Whittingham said there was a fairly large gap between the ones and twos and we know a dropoff at receiver was an issue in fall camp.

Today it would be good to see what the backups can do in live situations. I'd like to see how the lines are developing and see some of the skill players who had good moments in camp against live action.

Freshman receiver Dominique Hatfield, JC transfer Andre Lewis and sophomore Geoffrey Norwood all might get a lot of time today along with James Poole at running back.

Defensively, the Utes have a lot of young players who need time on the field such as linebackers LT Filiaga and Uaea Masina, corner Hipolito Corporan and Justin Thomas.

If the Utes are to survive their difficult schedule ahead, they have to get those players some experience. Today should give us an idea of just how that young talent is developing.

- Lya Wodraska

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