Utah RB Matt Asiata is out for the year with a torn ACL, which he suffered in Utah's win over Louisville. According to Asiata the injury occurred when he stood up after a play and the knee just buckled; which is the cause of the torn ACL. The team is going to see if Asiata is able to receive an extra year of eligibility. His first year in 2007 for Utah he broke his leg in his first game against Oregon State and redshirted, so a medical redshirt is the only option.
Asiata was the best running back in the Mountain West and Utah who now turns to Eddie Wide who is a speed back and did gain 129 yards on the ground in the Louisville game. However, Wide is not a guy to take on the 25 carry load; that responsibility goes to redshirt freshman Sausan Shakerin who has missed the last two games with a shoulder and wrist injury. Luckily for Utah they are off next week with the bye and the Utes hope they get Shakerin healthy when they take on Colorado State. Shakerin is the bigger back and is similar to the style that bowling all running style Matt Asiata used to wear down opposing defenses.
With the injuries the Utes are moving Shaky Smithson from wide receiver to running back which is what he played in high school and junior college; so the move is not a full blown panic move but is there to add some depth. Utah did have to play Ray Stowers against Louisville, but he is most likely out of the running for a few carries a game with his personal foul call at the end of the game.
QB Terrance Cain has shown he is able to run the ball some and he will be asked to run the ball a little bit more to create a more diverse running game. Plus, look for the Utes to put a receiver in motion with David Reed and Jereme Brooks on the end around plays to create more options to run the ball.
This injury with Matt Asiata could change the expectations of the season, because Terrance Caine is not going to be asked win a game with his arm. If Shakerin can come back healthy the Utes will still not have the running game they wanted with Asiata; especially since Shakerin is a redshirt freshman. However, he has the size to carry the load but he is inexperienced and on the year has one carry for 46 yards which was a touchdown in the San Jose State game.
Expect the carries to be aproximately a firty-fifty split between Wide and Shakerin, with some Cain and Smitson to get a few carries, and then mix in some wide out end arounds. The real question is if Shakerin is able to carry the load and if he is able to at least take on16 carries a game not be a dud Utah should be fine.
This Utah team should be able to contend for the conference title, because their defense is really that good and showed it in the Louisvile game by creating three turnovers and shutting down a pretty good running attack to only eighty yards. The offense may take a step back but there are enough weapons so that the drop off may not be too severe.
Who knows the Utes may find a gem in Sausan Shakerin or Shaky Smithson like they did in 2007 when RB Darrell Mack emerged as a 1,000 yard back. Coah Whititngham will not take any excuses for this injury or to the many the suffered against Louisville; the goals will still be the same.