Utah's first fall practice creates quite the buzz, literally


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SALT LAKE CITY - After months of anxiously waiting, football is back for the Utes as they had their first fall practice Thursday morning at the Ute Baseball Field.

The energy and excitement level surrounding this Utah team was apparent by the massive media crowd watching the from the sidelines - the largest gathering for a Utah practice, according to Utah's Sports Information Director Liz Abel.

But it wasn't just the media creating all the buzz - sophomore safety turned linebacker Brian Blechen had a bee fly into his mouth and string inside his throat. Ouch. Blechen was taken to receive medical treatment and missed the last 45 minutes of practice, but should be back on the field by Saturday.

Junior quarterback Jordan Wynn participated in practice for the first time since having surgery on his throwing shoulder in December. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham was very pleased to have his starting quarterback back on the field.


"Great to have Jordan Wynn back," Whittingham said. "That is probably the biggest positive is having Jordan Wynn back in the lineup."

"Great to have Jordan Wynn back," Whittingham said. "That is probably the biggest positive is having Jordan Wynn back in the lineup."

The good news for Ute fans is that Jordan didn't have any pain throwing the ball.

"It felt good. No pain, no soreness right now. I know that they are counting my throws, but I felt great today, and I will continue to go with it," Wynn said.

This was the first time Wynn was able to fully lead the revamped offensive system installed by new offensive coordinator Norm Chow. The biggest change from moving from the spread to a pro-style offense - having the quarterback under center instead of in the shotgun.

"I came from this similar type of system in high school. It is like riding a bike, you don't really forget, you just have to relearn it," Wynn told the media after practice.

"I've always been more comfortable under center, you get a better rhythm in your drops."

When asked what he liked about Wynn's performance in practice, Whittingham replied, "Everything. Great leadership, he was throwing the ball well, he's got good velocity. He was putting them in the right spots, making the right decisions. It is a big positive having him running the show."


"This is a grinder team," Jordan Wynn said. "This is a team that works hard and comes out and grinds every day. We did that today and we've done that in years past."

Whittingham was also pleased with the team's intensity, crediting it to all the work completed during the offseason.

"Two things that are very apparent: Number one, they've worked extremely hard in the weight room, it has made us a faster, stronger team than it was when we went into the summer; number two, they've worked hard in the film room, we were able to hit the ground running because of their work in the film room and their notebooks that they did this summer," Whittingham said.

As the Utes get ready to play in the inaugural season on the Pac-12, the players didn't notice a change in the level of practice from last year.

"This is a grinder team," Jordan Wynn said. "This is a team that works hard and comes out and grinds every day. We did that today and we've done that in years past."

Other notes from practice

  • Whittingham wasn't too happy with the number of drops by the receiving corps. "Way too many drops by the wideouts and tight ends," Whittingham said. "We have to clean that up."
  • Players that stood out in practice, other than Jordan Wynn: safeties Keith McGill and Eric Rowe and defensive end Nate Fakahafua.
  • All three running backs are in the mix for the starting job (Harvey Langi, John White and Thretton Palamo). "All three are working hard... we really aren't going to be able to separate those guys until we start getting some physical contact going, and that's where some of the separation should start taking place," Whittingham said. "We'd like to see one or two guys separate themselves."
  • Some teams try to imitate a stadium atmosphere by pumping in fan noise. The Utes used a similar tactic in practice, but used music instead. "I want to serve two purposes. Number 1, create a game day environment, you don't play when it's quiet. And music that will irritate them, if possible. Get them in a bad mood, and make them work hard," Whittingham said with a smile. "The intent is not to entertain them. The intent is to think, focus and react when there is distraction." What music will be played, and will the players or other coaches get a chance to select a playlist? "You won't hear anything post Y2K ... They have their playlist during stretch (the players do), once stretch is over it is all mine."

*Email: rojackson@ksl.com*Twitter: @rojackKSL

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