Could Running The Ball Against Arizona Be The Answer For Utah?

Nov 4, 2022, 9:44 AM
Running back Jaylon Glover #1 of the Utah Utes rushes the football against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second half of the NCAAF game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- It is no secret at the moment that the Utes are a little banged up late in the 2022 season. The good news is nothing was reported as season ending by head coach Kyle Whittingham earlier in the week. However, with several guys potentially out again this week to rest, or if they do play, most likely very sparingly, could Utah lean on the running the ball against Arizona?

What The Numbers Say About Utah Running The Ball

Much like the defensive production, Utah’s run game has not looked how fans are used to, but rates much better than most would suspect. The Utes currently rank fourth in the Pac-12 in rushing offense even without Tavion Thomas (non-injury reasons) for most of the season.

Micah Bernard and quarterback Cam Rising have largely been responsible for that production the past few weeks, however, both players are on the “banged up” list which means if they do play, they most likely won’t be asked to run much if at all.

Utah does have two up-and-coming running backs in freshman Jaylon Glover and quarterback-turned-running back Ja’Quinden Jackson that could be leaned on against the Wildcats.

Last week against Washington State Glover 20 carries for 76 yards and one touchdown. He was averaging about 3.8 yards per carry. Jackson had 10 carries for 43 yards and a touchdown while averaging 4.3 yards per carry.

Neither stat line is mind-blowing per se, but if you watched the game closely, the potential is there for either or both to have a big game sooner rather than later. Especially against a team that ranks eleventh in the league in rush defense…hi Arizona. It seems like the perfect opportunity to let some of your young guys really establish themselves and build some confidence while letting guys like Rising, Bernard and tight end Dalton Kincaid take it easy.

Full Team Effort Again

Obviously, Glover and Jackson will need to be committed to doing work out on the field which they proved they are capable of last week against WSU. They will need help from the big guys up front though.

Unlike years past, Utah’s strength on the offensive line has fallen more toward pass protection in 2022 than the run game which partially explains why the run game has looked much different. If in fact Utah opts to go with more of a run attack against the Wildcats, the OBlock is going to have to do everything in their power to allow Glover and Jackson to really establish themselves.

There are a few other numbers that work in Utah’s favor when it comes to potentially running the ball more against Arizona this week. One is time of possession in which Utah currently leads the Pac-12 in.

Look, I get it, time of possession only matters if points are being put on the board and while Utah isn’t the best in the league in that regard, they do enough sitting at fifth (about 38.2 points per game) which is better than Arizona’s seventh.

If Utah can run the ball effectively, milk the clock and keep the ball away from the Wildcats while putting up some points, they should be able to walk out of Rice-Eccles with a win and without putting the load on guys who could maybe use a little more rest for bigger games down the road.


Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @BodkinKSLsports


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