Utah football: Running back Wide open to bigger role
Off the field, Utah junior running back Eddie Wide is much like Matt Asiata in that he is a quiet, soft-spoken guy who prefers attention to be on his teammates, not himself.
That is one of the few similarities the running backs share.
The 5-foot-11, 220-pound Asiata is a power running back, even with his slimmed-down figure this year. Wide, on the other hand, is more of a scatback, a guy who heads to the corners first.
If Asiata, who suffered a shoulder injury in Saturday's game at San Jose State, can't play at Oregon, Wide will start in his place.
How will his style change the Utes' running game? Not by much, predicted Utah coach Kyle Whittingham .
Even though Wide is slighter in stature, listed generously at 5-10, 195 pounds, Whittingham believes he can handle the rigors of the starting role. That includes pounding the ball inside.
"He is a good runner inside and outside," Whittingham said. "He can handle it."
Wide started four games in 2008, finishing the season with 30 carries for 183 yards. If he starts Saturday, he could come close to matching that season's worth of production in one game, considering Asiata rushed 36 times for 156 yards against Utah State and 20 times for 94 yards against San Jose State.
While Whittingham hinted the running duties would be more spread out if Asiata isn't available Saturday, Wide said he is eager to prove he can be the star of the offense, too, if necessary.
"I'm ready to pick up the rifle, as they say," he said. "I have to be ready and focused to do what I need to do."
Joe Phillips , a walk-on who was once the Utes' No. 3 kicker, has been promoted to No. 1 for now, Whittingham said.
Phillips replaces Ben Vroman , who missed on three field-goal attempts Saturday. Phillips made a 25-yard field goal Saturday.
"It'll be completely decided after Thursday's practice, but right now it's Joe No. 1, Ben No. 2," Whittingham said.
Vroman will still kick off.
Red zone alert
So far the Utes have been in opponents' red zones eight times and have scored four touchdowns and a field goal. Both Utah State and San Jose State had successful goal-line stands against the Utes.
That kind of production simply isn't good enough to satisfy Whittingham, who said the Utes have to improve this week.
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
TV » ESPN
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