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Utah football: Utes running back Bubba Poole making a case to be the man

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17 2013 8:00 p.m. MDT

Utah's James Utah's James " Bubba" Poole looks for an opening during a run as Utah and Stanford play Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah running back Bubba Poole is starting to make a statement. The sophomore rushed for a game-high 111 yards and caught a team-high seven passes in last Saturday’s 27-21 win over No. 5 Stanford.

Even so, Poole hasn’t won the job outright — yet. He tops the depth chart, but co-backups Lucky Radley and Kelvin York are still in the mix.

“Nobody’s really, clearly separated themselves from the pack, although Bubba started to make that happen last game,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “And if that continues, that’s the direction we’ll go.”

However, Whittingham pointed out that there have been plenty of years where the Utes have used a one-two punch. He added that running back by committee is not a bad thing as long as they’re getting good production.

And, after getting 181 yards on the ground against Stanford, that’s currently the case.

MATURE UTES: Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez had an interesting response when asked about Utah’s physicality at his Monday press conference.

“I think they’ve always been physical and they pride themselves on that,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve got some grown men, so that helps, too — not just from a strength standpoint but from a maturity standpoint, too.”

GOING BOWLING: Don’t ask Whittingham about the Utes being two wins shy of bowl eligibility. As usual, he’s taking things one game at a time.

“We’re just trying to get win No. 5. That’s all we’re doing,” he said, while noting the importance of the Utes giving it everything they've got each week, including film work, practice, weightlifting and nutrition.

“That’s just what we’re focusing on,” Whittingham continued. “Not even really a week at a time, one day at a time.”

CONTINUAL IMPROVEMENT: Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson likes what he’s seeing out of quarterback Travis Wilson.

“He’s a leader. He’s proven that. He’s tough. He’s proven that,” Erickson said. “We want consistency and he’s been pretty consistent other than one game and that’s behind him.”

The biggest thing, Erickson noted, is for Wilson to just keep getting better and better all the time.

Email: dirk@desnews.com Twitter: @DirkFacer

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