Utah football: Running back John White ready for bigger role
Utah running back John White is finally going to get what he wants the ball.
White, who is averaging just 69 yards a game after averaging 116.8 yards in 2011, will get the ball more in the future, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said this week.
No one was happier to hear the news than White.
"Hallelujah," he said with a laugh. "That is all I have to say. I definitely want the ball in my hands. I feel like they trust me when the ball is in my hands and I will make plays, but every game comes with its own game plan and you have to stick to it."
White, who rushed for 1,519 yards last year, had his low point against Arizona State on Sept. 22 when, still hampered by an ankle injury, he managed just 18 yards on 14 plays.
Upset with his play afterward, White vowed to make up for the performance in the following games, but he didn't get many chances to do so. He rushed 13 times for 68 yards against USC and 11 times for 44 yards against UCLA, including only one carry for no gain in the second half.
White felt he ran well and was disappointed he didn't get more touches.
"I just focused on my other duties, blocking and running routes and making sure I didn't make any mistakes," he said.
Even as the Utes have changed quarterbacks and offenses, there was no reason for White to get as few carries as he has had lately, Whittingham said.
"Nothing prevented it, other than a little bit of game circumstances, but there is no excuse we should have given him more touches than he had."
One difference for White this year has been the absence of a formidable fullback like he had in 2011 in the 6-foot, 253-pound Shawn Asiata, who helped clear the way for White.
However, White said he doesn't feel like he has to do everything on his own.
"We were like brothers, so there is a difference," he said. "But we still have the line, tight ends who can help out."
Gone too are the plans to incorporate backup Kelvin York and the tight ends into the run game with White in multiback sets as the Utes take on a more traditional spread offense.
However, Whittingham didn't seem concerned Monday that White couldn't be successful.
"It's just a matter of getting the ball in his hands more," he said. "He has a good yards per carry average [3.9], but he's just not getting enough carries. Kelvin has been a bright spot, and we need to get the ball in his hands more as well."
Going up against No. 8 Oregon State on the road is as good a time as any for White to return to a prominent role in the offense.
He isn't intimidated he is just plain hungry for the ball.
"Coming into their house, I'm ready," he said. "We're 2-4, and we need a big win right now."
John White by game
Rush Yrd Avg TD
No. Colo. 24 119 5.0 1
Utah St. 27 96 3.8 0
ASU 14 18 1.3 0
USC 13 68 5.2
UCLA 11 44 4.0 0
Utah at No. 8 Oregon State
P Saturday, 8:30 p.m.
TV • ESPN or ESPN2