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Is Oregon State game the best time to harp on the run for Utes?

Published October 20, 2012 8:46 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Utah Utes say they need to make a concerted effort to run the ball more, but is this the week to do it? Oregon State is giving up just 70 yards a game on the ground to rank fourth nationally but have a much softer pass defense, which is giving up 291.8 yards a game. In a perfect world the Utes would be headed into this game with a veteran quarterback whose had some experience handling Pac-12 defenses and hostile environments. A guy like that would allow the Utes to test that pass defense right away. Instead the Utes have Travis Wilson, a freshman who is making just his second start. So the Utes have a bit of a dilemma, do they go conservative, trust that John White can have a breakout game and do what other backs haven't done and be effective or do the Utes go all in and let Wilson attack that defense in the passing game? No question the Utes have to get White more involved, but given the circumstances, I think I'd emphasize that passing game first, ideally with some short screens and slants to spring speedy guys like Dres Anderson, Reggie Dunn and DeVonte Christopher and even White, then let Wilson take some shots downfield. It's a risk to turn Wilson loose, no doubt especially since he did have some accuracy issues in his debut, but at this point the Utes need to take some risks to turn their season around. Perhaps Wilson can be as cool under pressure as those around him say he can and surprise everyone, including Oregon State. Personally, I'm a little more skeptical of the run game in this contest than the Utes' passing abilities. The offensive line has improved but it's still not what you'd call a formidable area for the Utes. Utah's inexperienced line is compounded by the lack of a fullback who can help clear the way for White. So if he is to have a breakout game, he's going to have to get a lot of those yards for the most part on his own. What do you think, arm chair quarterback, which way would you go with the offense?