SALT LAKE CITY — John White can make history Friday afternoon at Colorado. The senior running back needs 127 yards to become the first player in University of Utah history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
"He's knocking at the door. It would be nice to have that happen," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "It's not our primary objective, obviously, but if we can get him 1,000 yards that would be a good thing for a lot of reasons."
White broke a 29-year-old school record last season by rushing for 1,519 yards. The encore hasn't been as productive, however, because of a foot injury that kept him out of the BYU game and slowed his return to form.
White has since bounced back. He enters his final college game with four consecutive rushing performances in excess of 100 yards — scoring six touchdowns in the process. Last week against Arizona, White set a school record with his 13th career 100-yard game.
"He's meant so much to our program," Whittingham said. "We missed him when he was out for that period of time this year, and it took him a while to get back to his old self, but now he's ripping off 100-yard games just like he always has."
White, however, doesn't reflect on the numbers. He didn't realize he was closing in on 1,000 yards this season until Whittingham mentioned it to the team in practice. News of last week's record-setting performance also came as a surprise.
"It's sick. But I've got to owe it to my team," White said. "They do all the blocking for me. Without them blocking for me, I couldn't get those 100-yard games that I've gotten. So I owe it to them."
Even so, White acknowledged, "it would be dope to end on another 1,000-yard season."
The mark has only been reached 12 times in school history. The only player to do it twice was Eddie Johnson, who topped the milestone in 1984 and 1986.2 comments on this story
White's bid to join Johnson, though, is secondary to the task at hand. He insists his top priority is helping the Utes (4-7) close out the season with a victory and ease the pain of the program's first losing season since 2002.
It won't, however, fix everything.
"It's still going to hurt because we didn't get to a bowl game," White said.
Utah faces a Colorado defense that ranks last in the Pac-12 against the run. The Buffaloes (1-10) are giving up an average of 227.64 yards per game on the ground — 116th in the nation. Two weeks ago, they allowed Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey to run for a conference record 366 yards on 25 carries. Five of those runs ended with touchdowns.
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