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Utah football: Utes putting an emphasis on run game

Backup James Poole closing gap on starter Kelvin York.

First Published Aug 20 2013 02:45 pm • Last Updated Aug 21 2013 08:37 am

Kelvin York might be the No. 1 back on Utah’s depth chart, but by the time the season starts, being No. 1 could be a moot point.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Tuesday backup James Poole, a 6-foot, 196-pound sophomore, continues to close the gap between himself and the 5-11, 220-pound York.

At a glance

Camp corner

What we learned » Utah’s run game will be the emphasis of the offense, particularly with James Poole coming on strong.

Who was hot » Fifth-year senior Sean Fitzgerald has had several good days of camp at receiver.

What is next » The Utes will have several light practices in the coming days as they taper off for the opener.

USU at Utah

O Aug. 29, 6 p.m.

TV » Fox Sports 1

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Whittingham said both backs will get a lot of carries and likened the two backs to the combo the Utes had in Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide several seasons ago.

Asiata was a powerful back like York whereas Wide was more elusive like Poole.

"He brings a different dimension," Whittingham said of Poole. "He can make guys miss."

Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson said he wants an offense that is "50-50" between the run and pass, but said the plan is to have a run-first mentality.

"We are going to be able to come in and run the football and then throw it off the stuff we do with the run," Erickson said.

The Utes often lived or died with the run game in the past because of an inconsistent passing game. However, Erickson doesn’t anticipate such an issue this year. The Utes have had several good practices in the passing game, he said.

"Travis [Wilson] is really throwing extremely well," he said.

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The Utes took a break from their camp work on Monday to cool off at Seven Peaks Waterpark.

"We had a great time," receiver Dres Anderson said. "It was good to get our minds off football a little bit and just have fun."

Whittingham said it was a good diversion for the team, which has been working very hard in camp.

"It was a nice break for them, then we came back and worked hard under the lights," he said.

The Utes are practicing twice at night this week so the players can adjusted for the 6 p.m. kickoff against Utah State in the Aug. 29 season opener.

Of note

Receivers Andre Lewis and Sean Fitzgerald have come on strong at the end of camp. Corners Davion Orphey and Reginald Porter continue to be hampered some by injuries.

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