SALT LAKE CITY -- You can't watch one practice and thereby know a team. But that won't stop me from making a handful of quick observations on the Utes.
It was a good practice to watch: full-pads, lots of hitting. Day turned out beautiful after morning snow but practice was still indoors.
It seemed like there were more nice moments running the ball than passing the ball, but that should be expected with a pair of inexperienced backups trying to learn coordinator Norm Chow's West Coast offense. One observer noted that the play-action looks particularly needed work.
One of my early thoughts was, "Utah passes the eye test. It looks like a Pac-12 team." Then I looked up at banners celebrating a pair of unbeaten seasons capped by BCS bowl wins. But of course Utah passes the eye test.
Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei was listed at 330 pounds on the November depth chart. He now carries 310 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frames. He's a load and moves well. My guess is more than a few interior Pac-12 offensive linemen are going to wish he stayed in the Mountain West Conference.
Been hearing some good things about redshirt freshman tight end Jake Murphy, but the last name didn't register much until it was pointed out to me that the tall man standing near me was his father, Dale Murphy. If you grew up in Atlanta during the '80s, it didn't get much bigger than Murphy, the two-time National League MVP for the Braves. His other son, Shawn, is now playing for the Denver Broncos. It was a bit surreal having a casual conversation with a childhood hero. Really nice guy; just like his longstanding reputation.