Utah football: York hopes to break out of frustrating season
With the few carries he got against USC, Utah senior Kelvin York ran like an angry man, going right at the heart of the USC defense.
Suffice it to say York's running was a good representation of his attitude.
York, who finished with four carries for 21 yards, admitted he has been frustrated with Utah's rushing mindset this year with the Utes using Bubba Poole, Lucky Radley, himself and Karl Williams at various times rather than sticking with a one- or two-back set.
Expected to be the starter this year, York instead has been relegated to a minor role, rushing just 50 times for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
Poole leads the Utes with 106 carries for 495 yards and a touchdown while Radley has 37 carries for 238 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Travis Wilson has 64 carries for 342 yards and five touchdowns.
York is close to surpassing his production last year, when he finished with 60 carries for 273 yards as the backup to John White, but he was hoping for more.
"This season they put me in and I can't really get into a rhythm and when I do get into a rhythm they take me back out," he said. "It's kind of up and down."
York's frustrations might be coming to an end. With Radley sidelined with an ankle injury and with the way York ran against the Trojans, he'll get more carries in the future, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
"He's earned that,"Whittingham said. "He has run physically."
His physical running style is why the Utes tabbed him as the predicted successor to John White, who led the Utes with 218 carries for 1,041 yards last season. However, Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson also needed a running back who could catch.
Poole emerged as that back while Radley and Williams also have gotten their share of carries, leaving the Utes without a real identity at running back.
"It's been hard," York said. "When you are working hard in practice and the games I'm just going to continue to work hard."
Whittingham has said he envisioned a rushing attack such as the one the Utes had when Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata shared the load from 2007-2010.
The speedier Wide finished with 401 carries for 2,013 yards and averaged 5.0 yards a carry for his career while Asiata had 379 carries for 1,748 yards and a 4.6 career average.
Scattering the carries between so many bodies this year has hurt York's effectiveness in his mind, preventing him from playing a larger role.
"I'd rather be in a two-back rotation instead of a three-back," he said. "Last year with me and John White in the two-back rotation I thought it was better but I guess with coach Erickson he wants to use everybody but I like the two-back rotation better."
Whittingham has discounted the notion that backs need a lot of carries to get into a rhythm, stating Utah's motto is "don't count the reps, but make the reps count."
The number he is more concerned with is Utah's yards per carry average, which stands at 4.6 per carry for the season. However, the Utes haven't been as effective as they've wanted to be in the run game of late, with Utah totaling 42 carries for 172 yards against Arizona and 38 carries for 71 yards against USC.
Wilson accounted for 16 carries and 59 yards combined in those two games while the swing pass to Poole that worked so well against Stanford isn't catching teams off guard anymore. The unsatisfactory results have the Utes turning to York once again. He is determined to not let his chance pass.
"It's been a long time," York said. "I want to carry the team, get us some more wins and try to get to a bowl game."
Utah rushing attack
The Utes rank seventh in the Pac-12 and 59th nationally in rushing, averaging 174.1 yards per game. Here is a breakdown of the Utes' top rushers:
Player Att Net Avg. TD
Bubba Poole 106 495 4.7 1
Travis Wilson 64 342 5.3 5
Lucky Radley 37 236 6.4 2
Kelvin York 50 198 4.0 2
Karl Williams 15 51 3.4 1
No. 25 Arizona Stateat Utah
O Saturday, Nov. 9, 2 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network
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