Utah football notes: Tight end Jake Murphy ready to be more of factor for Utes
A knee injury to Utah tight end Jake Murphy might have knocked him out of a game, but the freshman is determined to not let the down time affect his game.
That is a good thing for the Utes, who need him now more than ever.
The Utes, who lost leading tight end Dallin Rogers to a season-ending knee injury against Pitt, are relying on Murphy and junior Kendrick Moeai to anchor the position.
Murphy had three catches for 51 yards against BYU but didn't have a catch the past two games.
However, with Rogers out and himself fully recovered, Murphy said, he is ready to make more of an impact for the Utes.
"Dallin was a big part of the offense and an experienced, smart player," Murphy said. "The other tight ends know we have to step up big."
Murphy said the knee injury isn't affecting him and believes he has more games in him like the one he had against the Cougars.
"I feel like I can make those same plays against any other team," he said. "I'm confident in myself."
The next thing
The Utes have seen progress in Jon Hays as a starter, but Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said there are more steps for him to take to truly have a handle on the position.
"The first start he had he was trying to make plays when there wasn't one and forced the ball into coverage and was throwing some interceptions," he said. "The next stage he's not throwing the ball into coverage but he was holding onto it too long and taking too many sacks so the next step is to just get rid of the ball, burn it and let us live to play another snap without taking a sack or putting it into coverage. That is the next thing you will see is getting rid of the ball rather than hanging onto it too long."
While the game isn't being held on Cal's field, the Utes aren't considering it a neutral game.
"It's not on their campus, but there will be much more fans from Berkeley there than Utah fans," Whittingham said. â¦ Backup running back Tauni Vakapuna (ankle injury) is a "strong possibility" to make the trip to San Francisco and DeVonte Christopher (ankle) remains questionable, Whittingham said.