John White is hurting and it isn’t just his ankle bothering him.
A dejected-looking White said at Monday’s Utah press conference that Saturday’s 37-7 loss at Arizona State was on him.
White rushed 14 times for just 18 yards, his lowest output as a Ute. Bothering him more than his lack of yardage were the two fumbles he had.
One fumble set up ASU’s third scoring drive of the game.
“I’ve got to be smarter and get these guys going,” he said. “Me to put the ball on the floor two times, that’s not a good running back. I should not fumble at all and get yards and stuff like that. That is where it started.”
White missed the BYU game with an ankle injury he suffered against Utah State but didn’t blame the injury for his struggles.
“I don’t think that had to do with it,” he said. “It was me worrying too much about making plays and other things and thinking too much.”
A year ago White went from being a little-known running back to the savior of the Utah offense, rushing 316 times for 1,519 yards and 15 touchdowns.
This year has been a different story for the 5-foot-8, 185-pound senior. He was supposed to be just one element in a varied Utah offense.
But he hasn’t been able to get his game going, much less the offense as a whole.
White has just 233 yards on 65 carries and one touchdown. The touchdown and 119 of his rushing yards came in the season-opening blowout of Northern Colorado.
White admitted he felt pressure to follow his 2011 season with a similar showing this year. Saturday’s struggles only added to what is becoming a season of frustrations for the team captain.
“I feel like I let my team down and didn’t do my job,” he said. “I have to work harder.”
Utah quarterback Jon Hays wasn’t surprised to hear White was taking the blame for the offensive struggles.
“That is his personality and the type of person he is,” he said. “He is disappointed in his performance, but he’ll bounce back.”
White didn’t put any blame on Utah’s offensive line, although the line is much younger than it was a year ago and is making more mistakes.
“Everybody has to do their job,” he said. “I haven’t done my job so it’s not going to mesh as well if everybody is doing their job.”
However, White isn’t the only running back struggling. Backup Kelvin York replaced White Saturday and had 86 yards on 13 carries, but 32 of those yards came on one carry.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said the lack of a run game is his top concern. The Utes are averaging just 107.5 yards a game on the ground, ranking them just 107th nationally.
That statistic is a far cry from where they thought they would be when they signed York to back up White and were excited about the development of Jarrell Oliver.
What was once thought to be the Utes’ offensive strength is a decided weakness.
“We haven’t been able to establish any sort of consistency, and that hurts us,” Whittingham said. “We have to get that part figured out.”
White said he’ll get his part figured out.
“There is definitely more pressure, but great players take that pressure and learn from it,” he said.
John White through four games
Then and Now
vs. Montana State • 19 carries, 150 yds., 1 TD
vs. USC • 20 carries, 56 yds., 1 TD
vs. BYU • 22 carries, 174 yds., 3 TDs
vs. Washington • 14 carries, 35 yds., 0 TD
vs. Northern Colorado • 24 carries, 119 yds., 1 TD
vs. Utah State • 27 carries, 96 yds., 0 TD
vs. BYU • DNP (ankle injury)
vs. ASU • 14 carries, 18 yds., 0 TD