Even during the Utah-BYU rivalry week, academics are more important than football. So anyone believing Utah running back John White missed Tuesday’s practice due to an ankle injury can breathe easy.
White, who momentarily left Friday’s loss to Utah State with an injury, said following Wednesday’s practice that he is 100 percent. He was absent from Tuesday’s session to work on a project for his history class, he said.
"I’m great," he said. "I am ready to go out there and pound these guys. There are no issues at all."
While he was holed up in the library working on a project he said he needed to complete, Ute nation was in a frenzy imagining the Utes were headed into the rivalry game without the back.
It would have been a good reason to worry, considering the Utes will have a new starting quarterback and they are 9-0 when White rushes for 100 yards or more.
"Jesus, I miss one day of practice and they are all over it," he said of the worries. While fans might have been in a frenzy, White acted surprised at the near panic attack he caused. He said no one was asking about his ankle on campus.
"Nobody knows me," he said.
In the spot
If safety Eric Rowe can’t play Saturday due to a hamstring injury, it appears sophomore Tyron Morris-Edwards will start in his place.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said Morris-Edwards was ahead of Terrell Reese, Michael Walker and Joseph Bryant.
"He has been steady, very consistent," he said. "He has made very few mistakes, and you need to count on that and make sure you don’t blow coverages and you are where you need to be."
After facing one athletic quarterback who was able to find seams in Utah’s highly touted defense, the Utes say they have respect for BYU quarterback Riley Nelson’s abilities.
How much respect? Utah defensive end/linebacker Trevor Reilly likened Nelson’s style to that of Tim Tebow.
"I know Tebow won the Heisman and is in the NFL, but Riley reminds me of him," he said. "He is a lefty, he’ll put his shoulder down and hit you, he runs the draw well and throws the ball OK. Running backs are hard because you don’t account for them in man-to-man defense — it’s like a 12th guy out there. We know it’s going to be a big challenge."
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.