PULLMAN, Wash. – The debate is in full swing now as fans and pundits debate whether or not John White IV is the greatest running back in Utah history.
The junior speedster certainly made a solid case today, moving into second place on the Utes single-season all-time list and once again carrying the Utah offense. One seemingly nondescript run midway through the fourth quarter was all the evidence many will need: White set up a TD by hurdling, skirting, breaking and chugging his way for a 10-yarder in the red zone. Almost all his skills were on display on that play. Moments later, White showed off a couple more, bouncing outside, sprinting his way down the field and then balancing his way along the sideline.
OFFENSE – It's an easy criticism, but what does it say when the best pass play of the game for Utah was thrown by the punter? Still, Jon Hays did not turn the ball over and managed the game in adverse conditions. And White, well, he's simply amazing, going for 186 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and a pair of scores.
DEFENSE – The Utes rated A or A+ on every drive of the first three quarters, except for the two-minute drill by Washington State at the end of the first half. Utah had also allowed fewer than 200 yards of offense to the Cougars in the first three quarters. So how does one explain the fourth quarter, in which Utah gave up 200 yards and 17 points? Thankfully, the Utes 'D' decided to return for the overtime. Grade: B
SPECIAL TEAMS – Except for the spectacular White, Coleman Petersen and Sean Sellwood may be the game's most valuable players. Petersen hit three field goals in a blizzard, including the game winner from 38 yards in OT. Sellwood battled through the elements to average 41 yards a punt, plus he helped jump start the Utes with a 49-yard TD pass on a fake punt to Luke Matthews. Grade: A+
COACHING – I thought the Utes had fixed the penalty problems, but there were so many obviously silly penalties. Do they still run ladders in practice for those? Maybe they should. Fake punt was a good call, but Utah also got burned on a halfback pass and the play calling in overtime was extremely conservative, even though it worked out. Grade: B
OVERALL – Utah now has seven wins overall and four in the Pac-12 after a disastrous start in their new conference. Considering the weather and the difficulty of playing on the road in a tough conference, how can this grade be anything but great? Grade: A
Andy Griffin is a southern Utah broadcaster and sports writer and has been involved in covering sports in Utah, including professional, college and high school sports, since 1989.
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