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Utah notes: Team itching to get the season going

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah safety Chase Hansen acknowledged that the offseason can seem like an eternity at times.

“When you’re out here working, I think, it seems like it’s taking even longer,” Hansen said as Thursday’s season-opener against North Dakota draws closer.

Even so, Hansen also admits to feeling like he’s running out of time.

“I’m ready to go. I’m ready for the trainers to say ‘Hey, do your thing’ and I’m going to do my thing,” he said.

The real question, Hansen said, is can his body do it that fast. The junior is working his way into playing shape after missing all training camp with an unspecified “lingering” injury.

“So I guess it kind of depends on your perspective,” Hansen said of individual thoughts heading into the start of a season. “More than anything, I think the guys are itching to go play.”

Starting quarterback Tyler Huntley can attest. The sophomore said he gets “chills” just thinking about his first collegiate start.

Huntley, though, has something else on his mind. His mother, Regina, was injured in an accident while driving to work last April, Her car was blindsided by an 18-wheeler one day after returning to Florida from Utah’s spring game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“It just feels like I’ve got another chip on my shoulder just to play for her,” said Huntley, who hopes and prays that his mother and father Ricky can attend this week’s season-opener.

If they’re not able to travel to Salt lake City because of her recovery from surgery, Huntley knows his parents will be watching on TV and he’ll get a text from them letting him know how they feel and everything. And that, he explained, will be just like they’re going to be there.

AT CORNER: A season-ending injury to Tyrone Smith and academic issues that will keep junior college transfer Tareke Lewis out of the program until January have taken a toll on Utah’s cornerback pool.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the Utes were counting on those guys.

“That thinned us out at corner real quick,” he explained. “We still feel like we’ve got really good players back there, but we just don’t have the depth that we would have had.”

EXTRA POINTS: Whittingham’s first weekly press conference of the season is set for Monday at noon. … As of last week, Whittingham noted that Bapa Falemaka and Jake Jackson top the depth chart at tight end while front-runners Harrison Handley and Siale Fakailoatonga haven’t been able to practice much because of injuries. … Whittingham said the Utes have at least eight receivers they feel good about.

Email: dirk@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer