SALT LAKE CITY — Tony Bergstrom is more than just Utah's other starting tackle.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound junior happens to be the offensive lineman who saw more action than anyone else last season. He started all 13 games on the right side and led the line in total plays.

Besides that, head coach Kyle Whittingham noted that Bergstrom is a tough kid and a team leader.

"He's an anchor on that offensive line. He's just a guy that you get the same thing out of every single day — day in and day out," Whittingham said. "He has a great work ethic, a high level of performance. He's a very good tackle."

Bergstrom and three others (Caleb Schlauderaff, Zane Taylor and Tevita Stevens) are returning starters on an offensive line that has inserted junior college standout John Cullen at left tackle in place of the graduated Zane Beadles.

"I feel like for the most part we're clicking really well," Bergstrom said. "For those of us who have been there, we kind of have like a nice chemistry."

So much so, he added, that nobody runs twists on the right side where Bergstrom and Stevens have formed a bond.

"Tevita and I pretty much know what each other's thinking most of the time," Bergstrom said. "We finish each other's sentences. We're like an old couple."

The same, he added, can be said of the entire line.

"There's no group that is more united than us," Bergstrom explained while noting that Cullen is fitting right in. He said the newcomer has the "perfect O-line personality" and is picking things up.

TOUGHEST HOME OPENER: No. 15 Pittsburgh will be the highest-ranked opponent ever to face Utah in a season-opener in Salt Lake City.

Thursday will be the first time Utah has opened a season against a ranked team since 2008 at No. 24 Michigan. The Utes prevailed in that one, 25-23.

EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham said the Utes had a good practice Thursday. They'll shift into game-week mode Friday, treating it like a Monday as preparations gear up for next Thursday's season opener against Pittsburgh. ... Baseball great Dale Murphy and his son Jake were on the sidelines at the end of practice. Jake returned from his LDS Church mission in Australia earlier in the day and will enroll at Utah. The former American Fork receiver/safety, who originally committed to BYU, will most likely redshirt this season. ... The Utes are expected to arrive in time for the last hour of Saturday's "Fan Fest" at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The event is scheduled to run from 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

e-mail: dirk@desnews.com