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Utah football: Utes say they won't be intimidated by colossal aura of Coliseum

Published September 7, 2011 2:43 pm

U. notes • They're practicing to USC-related tunes, such as "Tribute to Troy."
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The Utah Utes acknowledge playing USC in the Coliseum for their Pac-12 debut will be special, but they don't plan to be intimidated or in awe of the atmosphere, they say.

The Utes have played at historic places such as Michigan, Notre Dame and the Superdome in recent years and will treat the USC experience just as they did those, coach Kyle Whittingham said.

"It's a great venue with a lot of tradition, but we have to take care of our business the same way we always do," he said.

To help the team prepare, the Utes have replaced Whittingham's classic rock selection played during practices with more USC-related tunes, such as the pounding drums of "Tribute to Troy," played after defensive stops.

"We're trying to replicate that environment," Whittingham said.

For many, the tunes have a familiar ring. Utah has 32 Californians on its roster. Quarterback Jordan Wynn, linebacker Brian Blechen and running back John White are just a few of the starters who have experienced USC on game day.

White, who is from Torrance, Calif., went to numerous games because his mother worked for the university in the financial aid department.

He'll enjoy the atmosphere, then do his best to forget it.

"Once you are on the field, all the fans disappear to me and you go out there and play the defenders," White said. "I'll be just fine."

Back is back

Utah already had plenty of USC offensive threats to worry about. Now there is another one.

Senior tailback Marc Tyler, who was suspended from USC's game against Minnesota after comments recorded by TMZ.com, has been reinstated and will play against the Utes, USC coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday.

Tyler was suspended after implying in the recording taken outside a night club in July that USC pays its players.

The 5-foot-11, 230-pound Tyler led USC with 913 yards on 171 carries in 2010. He had a career-best 160 yards on 31 carries against Arizona and has 1,183 yards on 212 carries for his career, averaging 5.6 yards a carry.

"He is a good back who was very productive last year," Whittingham said. "He's another in an endless stream of blue-chip guys they have."

Injury report

Senior left tackle John Cullen, who missed the opener with a concussion, is expected to play against USC. … Backup running back Tauni Vakapuna (high ankle sprain) and fullback Shawn Asiata (hamstring) are listed as questionable.

lwodraska@sltrib.com