SALT LAKE CITY — Utah running back John White had a devil of a time against Arizona State. The senior netted just 18 yards on 14 carries in Saturday's 37-7 setback. He lost yardage on five of his rushes and fumbled the ball away twice.
Hardly the stuff, obviously, of a returning all-conference honoree who broke Utah's single-season rushing record with 1,519 yards in 2011.
Although White missed the BYU game a week earlier with an ankle injury, he insists all is well physically.
"I've got to go out there and play," White said. "I think I'm just thinking too much and that's just the bottom line. I think it's that."
White explained that when nothing is there he just needs to "knife" his way forward like he did last season.
"I've just got to go back to that and stop thinking so much about the big play and scoring every time I touch the ball," White said. "It's just down and distance."
Besides moving the chains with his runs, the "Wolfman" is determined to take care of the football. "I've got to get better," he said.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and quarterback Jon Hays are confident White will return to form when the Utes return from a bye week to host USC on Thursday, Oct. 4.
"I expect him to bounce back and respond. He's a proven commodity. He gained 1,500 yards last year. It's not like we don't know what his capabilities are," Whittingham said. "He's probably the first one who will admit he's disappointed in his performance and so we expect him to be a strong suit for us going forward."
White has rushed for 233 yards and one touchdown on 65 carries this season, well off last year's pace.
"It's definitely not characteristic of John White," Hays said. "But he's going to work hard this week — you know he is — and he's going to bounce back."
The Utes are counting on it. Over the past two seasons, they're 9-0 when White tops 100 yards rushing and 0-7 when he doesn't.
"I've just got to go out there and get better," White said. "That's all I've got to do."
White noted that he had a similar game to ASU in high school and bounced back from it. Although the poor showing against the Sun Devils is still in the back of his mind, White is confident he'll get past it.
"It's just all about how you come into the game," White said. "You've got to come into the game like they owe you something because you've got to go out there and run the ball hard. That's all it is."
This time, however, White is adding another ingredient to the mix.
"I think I'm going to be more of a meaner guy because I can't have this," White said, while noting that he's ticked off about the situation. "I've got to come back with a higher confidence for this USC game. I'm going to be practicing hard every day and every week like I normally do. I'm going to come back."