RB Wide running wild for No. 19 Utes

Utah running back Eddie Wide got the ball five weeks ago and is still going.

Wide has run for 100-plus yards in all four of his starts since Matt Asiata was lost for the season with a knee injury. Wide can tie the school record of five straight 100-yard games when the 19th-ranked Utes host Wyoming on Saturday.

“I never thought it would be like this, but I’m hoping that it continues,” said Wide, who is averaging 6.1 yards per carry this season.

The Utes (6-1, 3-0 Mountain West) have won four straight since a loss at Oregon on Sept. 19 despite losing Asiata the next week when he tore his right ACL in the first quarter of a win over Louisville.

Utah went from the bruising Asiata to the fleet-footed Wide, who ran for 129 yards on 19 carries in the Utes’ 30-14 win over the Cardinals.

Wide hit the milestone again in wins over Colorado State, UNLV and Air Force last week, when he scored once in regulation and again in overtime as the Utes won 23-16.

“Eddie is doing exactly what we had hoped he would do when he stepped in,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “He has really given us the production in the run game that we needed to have every week. We really haven’t had any dropoff.”

Darrell Mack was the last back to record five straight 100-yard games. That was two years ago when Wide was a freshman and one of Mack’s backups.

“He was behind some pretty good backs but I always felt when he got his opportunity he’d do very well and he’s making the most of that opportunity,” Whittingham said.

While Mack and Asiata were big backs who could run over and through the defense, Wide is smaller and quicker. At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Wide has quick feet, great acceleration and Whittingham said tremendous vision that allows him to see where to go downfield before the defenders can get a hand on him.

“You thought they’d take a step back in their run game and they haven’t,” Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. “They’re a difficult team to defend.”

The Cowboys (4-3, 2-1) are in their first season under Christensen, who was Missouri’s offensive coordinator before Wyoming hired him. The Cowboys have already matched last year’s win total – despite getting shut out by Air Force 10-0 in their last game.

“I had no doubt that he’d do a great job. They’re very similar to Missouri offensively,” Whittingham said. “They’re very fundamentally sound and disciplined and just playing very good football.”

Wyoming had last weekend off and has had time to recover and prepare for the Utes, who have won eight of the last nine in the series, and a final month that could be one of the most difficult schedules in the Mountain West.

After the Utes, the Cowboys face BYU, San Diego State, No. 8 TCU and Colorado State.

“We know the areas where we had some difficulties. We tried to put some more emphasis and just put a little more time into them,” Christensen said. “When they come back, they know we’ve got an extremely tough five-week grind.”

Utah has won 11 straight conference games and is trying for a second straight Mountain West title. The Utes, who are already eligible for a bowl, have a huge game looming on Nov. 14 at TCU and are trying to avoid any stumbles this week against the Cowboys or next week at home against winless New Mexico.

The Utes have some cleaning up to do, namely with protecting the football. Utah fumbled six times last week against Air Force, but kept the damage to a minimum by recovering all but two.

“Right now we’re doing pretty good. We’ve meshed really well,” Wide said. “Our main thing right now is ball security. We had six balls on the ground just last week alone. That’s a big problem for us right now.”