Jon Hays knows that when Jordan Wynn is healthy, chances for him to run Utah's first string offense are going to be few and far between in 2011.
At least he is making the most of his chances now.
Hays has been one of the few players to profit from Wynn's illness, which has kept the starting quarterback out of Utah's practices for two days in a row.
It would be best if the offense had Wynn to run the show since the season opener is just two weeks away, but Hays is making good use of valuable reps.
He was one of the standouts in practice Thursday and is running the offense with more confidence than in the past.
"His game is tightening up and he is eliminating a lot of loose ends," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "He's showing up and making fewer mistakes."
The Utes don't plan to use a two-quarterback system like they have in the past, but Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow regularly reminds Hays he would be the guy if Wynn can't play, a message Hays hears loud and clear.
"I'm getting more comfortable with the offense and knowing how it's going with the schemes we're trying to run," he said. "Once I get comfortable we can really click as an offense so that is on me, really. I have 10 guys who are counting on me in the huddle."
The Utes hope to have Wynn back on the field Friday, but Hays did well enough Thursday for Whittingham to declare the offense won the day, despite two fumbles at the end of practice in a scrimmage situation.
"The score of the drill was in the defense's favor, but the offense had the better day," he said.
Moving on up
Starting running back John White was back on the field after missing practices due to a hip pointer. He made some nice runs, but so did Karl Williams, who is now competing for the No. 3 spot along with Harvey Langi and Thretton Palamo.
"Karl has come out of nowhere and is doing a nice job," Whittingham said. "He is making the most of his reps."
Walk-on kicker Coleman Petersen moved ahead of Nick Marsh for the place kicking role. Marsh, who missed all four of his attempts in Tuesday's scrimmage, struggled again Thursday while Petersen connected on a long field goal.
"There is still some evaluation to take place, but if we played tomorrow it would be Coleman Petersen," Whittingham said when asked who the No. 1 kicker is.
Corner Conroy Black returned to practice Thursday. â¦ Defensive lineman Lei Talamaivao remained sidelined with a foot injury.
What we learned • Backup quarterback Jon Hays had one of his better days with the Utes on Thursday as starting quarterback Jordan Wynn remained sidelined with the flu.
Who was hot • Even with John White back on the field, sophomore Karl Williams continued to get his share of carries and made several nice runs.
What's next • The Utes have their last two-a-day Friday.
O More photos from Utah's practice Thursday. > sltrib.com/sports