Utah football: Running back John White key to Utes' recovery
Corvallis, Ore. • Utah entered Saturday night's game at Oregon State intending to make a "concerted effort" to give running back John White the ball, in the words of coach Kyle Whittingham.
The results were only mildly encouraging.
White gained 68 yards, but that production required 20 carries. And 29 of those yards came on one play late in the first half, when he ripped off his longest run of the season.
Kelvin York was Utah's most effective runner, gaining 52 yards on 10 carries. The Utes ran reasonably well against the country's No. 4 rush defense, as their 135 net yards (with sacks subtracted) nearly doubled OSU's season average.
White carried the ball 11 times in the first half, matching his total from last weekend's loss at UCLA. But he did not get the ball at all during a three-play sequence that began with Utah's first-and-goal opportunity at the OSU 3.
In the second half, White carried the ball nine times for only 17 yards. His best play of the half was a 5-yard run in a fourth-and-2 play late in the game, but Utah could not convert that first down into a touchdown.
So it is apparent that feeding the ball to White is not a guaranteed solution even if that was the case in 2011, when they also started 0-4 in Pac-12 play.
White was the driving force of Utah's four-game winning streak in Pac-12 play last year, helping his team recover and qualify for the Sun Bowl.
White averaged 166.6 yards and scored a total of seven touchdowns in victories over Oregon State, Arizona, UCLA and Washington State. With his 8-yard run for the winning touchdown against Georgia Tech in overtime of the Sun Bowl, White finished the season with a school-record 1,519 yards as a junior college transfer.
The 2012 season had been a struggle for White. Partly because of an ankle injury he suffered in the second game at Utah State, he now has totaled only 413 yards in his six contests, missing the Sept. 15 win over BYU.
White showed signs of regaining his form last weekend at UCLA, posting 44 yards on 11 carries, but he was given the ball only once in the second half.
John White quarter by quarter
Quarter Att. Yds.
1st 6 13
2nd 5 38
3rd 4 7
4th 5 10
Total 20 68