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Utah football: Hansen, Barton putting on the hits — and ribbing each other along the way

Utah Utes linebacker Chase Hansen (22) tackles Washington Huskies running back Myles Gaskin (9) during a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.
Utah Utes linebacker Chase Hansen (22) tackles Washington Huskies running back Myles Gaskin (9) in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — There’s a fierce but friendly competition emerging on the Utah defense. Seniors Chase Hansen and Cody Barton are racking up impressive numbers on the field. The captains are also trying hard to outperform one another.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has seen it from linebackers before, most recently from Gionni Paul and Jared Norris a few years back.

“Sometimes you get those two guys who are kind of at the forefront and they rib each other a little bit,” said Whittingham, who acknowledged it extends into a strong leadership situation as well. “It’s a healthy thing. It’s not a distraction by any means.”

Hansen and Barton enter Saturday’s homecoming game against USC as Utah’s leaders in tackles. Hansen leads the Utes with 52 stops (36 solo), including 11 for loss. He also has four sacks, a fumble recovery and a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Barton, meanwhile, has 45 tackles (27 solo) — 3.5 for loss with 1.5 sacks. He also has three pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.

INSIDE HUNTLEY: Offensive coordinator Troy Taylor was asked what starting quarterback Tyler Huntley is like behind the scenes.

“He’s a very serious kid about football. He loves the game. He takes it personally,” Taylor said. “He’s one of those kids if we lose a game he’s blaming himself regardless of what the situation was. He’s a caring kid, he’s got a big heart, you can tell he loves playing football. He plays with a lot of passion. He’s a good person. Everybody loves him.”

EXTRA POINTS: USC has three players from Utah on its roster — senior linebacker Porter Gustin (Salem Hills), freshman linebacker Tayler Katoa (Layton) and freshman defensive lineman Jay Tufele (Bingham) . . . The Utes have given up just 17 points in the fourth quarter this season . . . Utah is 10-6 with Huntley as its starting quarterback.