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SALT LAKE CITY — And the defense came roaring back.
Almost on cue, Utah's defense was stalwart in Thursday's scrimmage at Rice-Eccles Stadium, after the offense seemed to get the upper hand the day before.
"The defense got after it," Utah defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi said. "We still have some things to work on, and we have to just keep moving forward."
Palepoi accounted for two fumble recoveries and a tackle for a loss, but deflected all of the credit to the rest of the defense.
"It is all on the defense. With Coach Kalani (Sitake) doing a good job of calling the plays, we all just go off him. I'm just feeding off of everyone else's energy."
According to the stat sheet, Palepoi was also credited with a forced fumble, but once again praised someone else for the effort. "Niasa (Leota) was actually the one that forced the two fumbles. They happened to be right in front of me, so I just jumped on them."
Defensive back Mo Lee had an interception and a sack. But instead of taking credit, he (you guessed it) praised another group - this time, the linebackers.
"I believe (our defense) is based around the linebackers," Lee said. "Whenever our linebackers can stop the run, it allows our defensive backs to be more aggressive. I had the opportunity to have a corner blitz and I took advantage of it."
The defense accounted for three turnovers, which, according to Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham, is a double edged sword.
"I thought (the defense) tackled well, very few missed tackles," Whittingham said. "They came away with three take-a-ways. It's a double edged sword, as the offense is getting ripped for turning the ball over, the defense is getting praised for taking it away."
Even with SI.com preseason All-America defensive tackle Star Lotulelei watching from the sidelines, Ute fans should be excited about how good this defense is shaping up.
As I mentioned on 1320 KFAN this afternoon, I think that Utah's defensive line has the potential to be one of the best in school history.
The bright spot on offense was the play of running backs Kelvin York and JUCO transfer James Poole. Poole rushed 10 times for 65 yards, while York had eight carries for 41 yards.
The Utes will go back to two-a-days Friday with a morning and an afternoon session.