Utah running back Matt Asiata, who leads the Mountain West Conference and ranks 10th nationally in rushing with 125 yards per game, is questionable for Saturday's game at Oregon.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham said the senior "dinged his shoulder up" late in the fourth quarter of last week's 24-14 win at San Jose State last week. He was replaced by backups Eddie Wide and Sausan Shakerin, who wound up teaming for 86 yards on nine carries to help secure the win.
Whittingham praised both backs for doing a great job in Asiata's absence. And, he added, they may have to pick up the load against the Ducks if Asiata is unable to play.
Quarterback Terrance Cain's running skills will also assist the effort, as will the fly sweep series involving receivers David Reed and Jereme Brooks.
And don't count Asiata out of the mix, even if he gets limited reps in practice.
"A proven guy like that, if he's ready, it's probably a game-time decision," Whittingham said. "We'll know more as the week progresses."
The same goes for left guard Caleb Schlauderaff. The junior was pulled out of the San Jose State game early for precautionary reasons with a sore knee.
JUST FOR KICKS: Whittingham said that senior Ben Vroman and junior Joe Phillips will battle it out for Utah's starting kicking job. Vroman missed badly on attempts from 50, 53 and 36 yards out against San Jose State and was replaced by Phillips, who connected on a 25-yarder with 13 seconds remaining.
"We'll have a competition this whole week in practice," said Whittingham, who added that the Utes may adopt a two-kicker system with short-range and long-range specialists.
Vroman, who handles Utah's kickoff duties, has superior leg strength.
"Ben was just in a funk on Saturday night. He's a good kicker. He's talented," Whittingham said. "But the bottom line is when the pressure is on you've got to perform. So we've got to go with who we think is going to get that done. So, we'll see what happens."
EXTRA POINTS: Utah leads the MWC in total offense and is 12th nationally with 509 yards per game ... The Utes have now won nine straight games away from Rice-Eccles Stadium, closing in on the school record of 11 consecutive set during the Urban Meyer era ... Asiata tops the nation in rushing attempts with 56 ... Safety Joe Dale leads the Utes with 14 tackles ... Through two games, the opposition has yet to return a punt against Utah.
Utes on the air
No. 16 Utah (2-0) at Oregon (1-1)
Saturday, 1:30 p.m., MT
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