Kyle Whittingham addresses plan for Ja'Quinden Jackson as Utah winds down the season
Kyle Whittingham says there have been no discussions about shutting down Utah running back Ja’Quinden Jackson for the rest of the season.
Jackson had just one carry in the second half of last weekend’s 35-28 loss to Washington. He once again looked noticeably bothered by an ankle injury that has persisted throughout the year.
With the Utes suffering their third loss and falling out of the Pac-12 title discussion, Whittingham was asked Monday at his weekly news conference if there are any talks of shutting players down for the year who may be playing hurt. Whittingham answered rather emphatically there will be no proverbial white flag just because the title game is out of reach.
“We would never let a record or wins and losses dictate the safety of a player, the health of a player,” Whittingham said. “If he feels good to go and he’s ready, then we go. That doesn’t enter into the equation. It’s completely dependent on the safety of the player and where he is physically and how ready he is.”
Jackson has 627 yards and four touchdowns this season. He’s averaging 5.1 yards a carry. In limited action against UW last Saturday, he scored two first-half touchdowns.
He missed the Oregon State game on Sept. 29 but looked fresh after the Utes’ bye week immediately after. Against Cal and USC in back-to-back weeks, Jackson ran hard, with 48 carries for 211 yards.
With Sione Vaki’s role on offense being scaled back in recent weeks, the run game has mostly fallen to Jaylon Glover (37 yards on eight carries against Washington) and Bryson Barnes.
Utah faces Arizona in Tucson on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network.