Utah football: Utes running game gets boost
Utah's running game should be back to full strength for Saturday's contest at Washington State after running back Kelvin York was cleared to play.
York missed Utah's loss at Oregon with a knee injury, but he has practiced this week and should play Saturday, coach Kyle Whittingham said.
The Utes managed just 116 yards on 42 carries against Oregon, an effort that must improve to help quarterback Adam Schulz, Whittingham said.
"I said it last week too, we have to get the run game going to throw the ball," Whittingham said. "We want to throw it when we want to throw it, not when we have to throw it. And in order to do that, we have to get the run game established."
The Cougars are giving up 185 yards a game on the ground, while the Utes are averaging 163.5 yards.
The Utes had hoped to get much more out of their run game this season with York and Bubba Poole leading the way, but the big numbers haven't materialized.
This week would be a good time for them to set the tone since the Utes want to control the clock and keep WSU's offense on the sidelines as much as possible.
Having York in the lineup gives the Utes an option of different looks.
"He is a good north-south guy," Whittingham said. "We hope we can get them involved this week."
Better with two
Utah tight end Jake Murphy made a great one-handed, 34-yard touchdown catch against Oregon last week and has continued to make one-handed grabs in practice this week.
While the grabs are impressive, Whittingham said he would prefer Murphy go back to catching balls with both hands, especially since his wrist has healed enough to allow him to do so.
"It's great if it's the only option," Whittingham said. "But we don't want him to get in the habit of just sticking one hand out there."
Murphy attributed his one-handed abilities to his past experience in baseball.
Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson's reunion tour continues with the Utes' trip to Washington State. Erickson coached Washington State in 1987 and 1988 before moving on to Miami. He was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1988 after he led the Cougars to a 9-3 record and their first bowl game since 1931, where they defeated Houston 24-22 in the Aloha Bowl.
Erickson said he had fond memories of Pullman even if he only was there a short time.
"We had some fun wins," he said. "It seems like we are getting to every place I've coached, but I've been there five or six times with ASU and Oregon State."
The Utes may luck out with fairly decent weather for their trip to Pullman since the forecast is calling for a high of 35 degrees but sunny skies.
It was 27 degrees and snowing at kickoff when the Utes visited in 2011.
The Utes have practiced inside this week due to the rainy weather in Salt Lake City.