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If there's one thing the Ute football team has lacked the last few years it's consistency. You can look it up.

Last year after a fine start, the Utes dropped three straight games against Wyoming, Idaho and New Mexico to drop them out of WAC title consideration. The year before they lost back-to-back games to New Mexico and UTEP. In 1991 there were consecutive midseason losses to San Diego State and Hawaii, which killed title hopes.The players who have played through those seasons are very aware of the problem and determined not to let it happen again this year.

"We need to prove how consistent we can be," said Luther Elliss, the Utes' heralded defensive tackle. "That's been our big problem."

Elliss and his fellow seniors have been praised highly by coach Ron McBride for their leadership. And the seniors are the ones trying to bring the entire team together to play as a unit so they won't suffer those midseason lapses.

"I think we've earned the respect of our teammates. We try to show them respect and they respect us. If something's wrong, we'll call a team meeting ourselves. We don't need the coaches there," said Elliss.

Fellow senior Henry Lusk said in previous years the team has had "a lot of ups and downs" and some problems such as intrasquad altercations. But he says all that has changed.

"I think we're closer than we've ever been," he said. "The senior class is very tight. But no one thinks they're better than anyone else. We tell the younger guys, `This is a team on the rise. You either join us or get left behind.' "

McBride can't say enough good things about his seniors.

"Our seniors are outstanding. This class has led us in a positive way for a couple of years now. They're a special group of guys who really want something this year."

CAMP NOTES: McBride has no complaints after nearly a week of practice. He said his players have worked through their "soreness" and are "starting to get their legs" . . . Linebackers Derrick Stapley and Jason Hooks were impressive in Thursday afternoon's scrimmage . . . Utah's all-American candidate Luther Elliss sat out Thursday's practice with a sore hamstring . . . The Utes' four tailbacks, Charlie Brown, Rob Hamilton, Sylvester Cooperwood and Juan Johnson, have all looked good, pleasing their coaches . . . Camp Carbon will conclude Saturday with a "situational scrimmage" and the team will head back to Salt Lake Sunday night. Two-a-day practices will be held next week before the team switches to one practice per day the week before the Utah State game.