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Utah will be shorthanded at running back against Washington State

The Utes will be without leading rusher Tavion Thomas for the Thursday night matchup

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Utah running back Tavion Thomas carries the ball during game against Southern Utah in Salt Lake City on Sept. 10, 2022.

Tavion Thomas (9) of The Utah Utes runs with the ball while playing the Southern Utah Thunderbirds in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022. The Utes won 73-7.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

Utah will be digging into its depth chart at running back for its game at Washington State.

The Utes will be without leading rusher Tavion Thomas for Thursday night’s game, the Deseret News has confirmed.

There were also reports that Micah Bernard would not play, although he was warming up pregame.

Beyond those two, true freshman Jaylon Glover and quarterback-turned-running back Ja’Quinden Jackson are the other leading rushers available.

There were signs leading up to the game about Thomas not being available. A pair of vague social media posts from him created speculation about his availability for the game.

On an Instagram post where the Utah football account shared what uniform combination the team would wear against Washington State, Thomas replied several times, and at one point said, “Ima be watching n cheering.”

The day of the game, Thomas tweeted out, “Go utes!!! Bring it home.”

Thomas has run for a team-high 414 yards and five touchdowns this season, with a 4.5 yards-per-carry average.

Bernard has rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns this season, and has been a key part of the team’s rushing attack the past two years.

The Utes are also without Chris Curry, the LSU transfer who suffered a season-ending injury last month.

Glover has rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries in four games. He was a highly touted four-star recruit out of Florida in Utah’s 2022 recruiting class.

Jackson has transitioned from quarterback to running back during the season and run for 65 yards and a touchdown in limited work.

Quarterback Cam Rising is the team’s second-leading rusher, with 308 yards and a team-high six touchdowns on the ground.

After mentioning during Utah’s bye week last week that he was working on a pecking order for the Utes’ running game, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham told reporters Monday that any such information “will be kept internally. We won’t tip our hand.”

“We’re not as productive in the run game this year as we have been in years past,” Whittingham said, per the Deseret News’ Jeff Call. “But on the other side of that, we’re throwing the ball pretty darn well. We seem to be at our best when we’re running the ball effectively.”

Washington State is allowing 123.7 rushing yards per game, though the Cougars allowed 203 yards to Oregon State in WSU’s most recent game.