For the Utah Utes, getting into game mode means preparing for a whole lot of Chuckie Keeton.
Keeton, Utah State’s dynamic quarterback who is thought by some to be a Heisman candidate, is the main figure in Utah’s defensive plans.
Asked about what element of Utah State’s concerned him, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Wednesday, "Chuckie Keeton, first, second and third thing."
Asked for a fourth, Whittingham repeated Keeton’s name.
"He is Utah State’s catalyst," he said.
Keeton gave the Utes fits last year, going 22 for 32 for 216 yards and rushing 17 times for 86 yards to help the Aggies upset the Utes 27-20 in overtime.
While Whittingham puts most of the blame for the loss on an offense that "got its butt kicked," the Utes definitely don’t want Keeton delivering a repeat performance.
"You have to keep him in a cage, and it’s something we’re stressing all fall camp," Whittingham said. "He is going to get out his fair share of times, but you want to keep it to a minimum."
Whittingham said Keeton rated "up there" with any of the top quarterbacks Utah has played in the Pac-12.
"It’s my guess he’d be an impact player regardless what team or conference he played for," he said.
The Utes are just a few days from wrapping up camp, but still haven’t settled on the corner positions.
"It’s still a work in progress," Whittingham said. "There’s not a lot of time to sort it out, so we have to work quickly."
Linebacker Brian Blechen, slowed by tendinitis in his knees, is slowly getting better, Whittingham said. ... Defensive end Jason Whittingham will miss the opener while he continues to recover from hand surgery. ... Sharrieff Shah Jr., son of Utah cornerbacks coach Sharrieff Shah and a transfer from Utah State, was added to the roster this week.
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