Will Arizona’s defense make Utah RB John White a weekly winner?by Anthony Gimino on Nov. 03, 2011, under Arizona football
Utah has had two players win Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. But none on offense.
Playing Arizona this week, that could change in a hurry.
The UA defense just keeps on giving. Three of Arizona’s first six conference opponents have produced the league’s offensive player of the week. And it wasn’t like those winners just had a nice game. Each had a record-setting performance.
So, Utah’s John White should be dreaming of glory Saturday afternoon at Arizona Stadium.
He is the nation’s 15th-leading rusher, averaging 114.38 yards per game. He has rushed for at least 150 yards in half of Utah’s eight games.
“Very quick. Can get to the perimeter very, very fast,” Arizona interim coach Tim Kish said.
“They have a big, thick fullback in there (253-pound Shawn Asiata) who does a great job of blocking for him.”
White is different than last week’s Arizona torturer — Chris Polk, who is powerful, plenty fast enough and a dangerous pass catcher. White doesn’t pack the same punch at 5-foot-8 and 186 pounds, and he has only eight receptions.
As a comparison, don’t think Polk, think about a guy who flies with the Ducks.
“I won’t give him too much credit by saying LaMichael James,” Arizona safety Robert Golden said of White, “but he’s a real good scatback.”
White likely won’t lack for opportunity against the Cats. Utah is cautious with the passing game, breaking in quarterback Jon Hays for the past four-plus games after Jordan Wynn suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.
So, White has been a workhorse. He carried 36 times in a win at Pittsburgh. He rushed 35 times last week in a victory over Oregon State.
“Knock on wood he’s been very durable. He holds up,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said in the Deseret News. “He’s a physical runner. He runs far bigger than his 185-pound frame.”
James set the Oregon rushing record against Arizona with 288 yards to start the trend of opponents winning a Pac-12 award at the Cats’ expense. USC’s Matt Barkley set a school record with 468 passing yards.
Last week, Polk became the first player in Washington history to rush for 100 yards and have 100 yards in receptions. Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle came one receiving yard away from pulling off the same triple-triple against Arizona.
Kish is trying to get Arizona bigger on the defensive line by moving 280-pound defensive tackle Kirifi Taula to end, which could help slow Utah’s downhill attack.
If not, another opponent could run off with a conference honor.