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With 27 seconds left in a tie game at Baylor, Utah’s Jaylon Glover took the handoff from Nate Johnson. Glover originally broke a tackle, then the Bears defense let up to allow him to score, since Baylor had no timeouts and wanted to get the ball back.
With an open end zone ahead of him, but being acutely aware of time and score, the sophomore running back ran parallel to the goal line for approximately five seconds before he was pushed into the end zone by Baylor’s Mike Smith Jr.
Those burned five seconds proved to be vital. On the ensuing drive, the Utes let Hal Presley get behind them for a 47-yard completion, which set the Bears up at the Utah 22-yard-line, but with just one second left.
Sawyer Robertson’s pass to Ketron Jackson Jr. on that final play was incomplete, no flag, and Utah escaped from Waco 2-0 on the season.
It was an impromptu moment from Glover, as Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said postgame that he didn’t instruct him to do it, but called it “heads up” on Glover’s part.
Utah’s no-nonsense running backs coach Quinton Ganther, who played at the U. in 2004 and 2005, had a different reaction.
“My reaction is I’m going to kill this kid,” Ganther said, laughing, adding that what he said to Glover on the sidelines wasn’t fit for cameras.
The game was tied, and the goal was to just get in the end zone as soon as possible in a tie game. Smith could have potentially caused a fumble while Glover was dancing around. Weirder things have happened in college football games.
“We do have a situation like that, but that wasn’t the time for that situation,” Ganther said. “I mean, it was smart, but it was dumb at the same time. We have to make sure that we get in the end zone to go up by six.”
Everything worked out in the end, and those extra five seconds wasted did prove to be valuable for Utah.
“For the situation, for me personally, I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Glover said. “I took a glance at the clock, it was 19 seconds, so they were going to let me score. I was going to run out as much as I can until I walked into the end zone.”
In his freshman season in 2022, the 5-foot-8, 205-pound running back saw action in nine games amid an up-in-the-air running backs room plagued with availability issues and injuries.
He toted the rock 78 times, rushing for 360 yards and four touchdowns, including a career-high 76-yard performance against Washington State.
Glover had four carries for six yards against Florida this season and seven totes for 40 yards and a touchdown against Baylor.
Utah lost No. 2 running back Micah Bernard for the season before the Baylor contest, so Glover assumed the No. 2 role, spelling Ja’Quinden Jackson.
Going forward, that looks to be the plan, as Utah’s Week 2 depth chart reflected the change, with Glover behind Jackson at RB2.
“You lose a leader. He was my big brother coming in, so losing him for the season, definitely you going to feel it,” Glover said of losing Bernard for the year.
“But Coach Q, him as well being my big brother, just preparing me for these moments. You’re always asking for your number to get called, so when it is, you just got to be ready.”
Chris Curry, who was lost for the season three games in last year, is getting closer to returning. The LSU transfer played one snap against Baylor.
“He’s getting, well actually, he’s there right now. I think this is a game where we can see Chris at his best again,” Ganther said.
Utah rushed for 105 yards and two scores against Florida, but just 66 yards came from running backs. The two touchdowns were scored by Bryson Barnes and Johnson.
Against Baylor, Jackson rushed for 129 yards, including Utah’s biggest rushing gain of the season on a 44-yard run, with Glover adding his 40 yards and Charlie Vincent contributing four. Utah’s offensive line got better as the game went along, and was able to create separation in the second half.
As Utah’s passing game improves, whether that be Cam Rising returning or Nate Johnson, teams will have to defend the pass more, which can open up the running game.
“Ultimately we need to make bigger plays,” Glover said. “We have high expectations for us. I mean, I know as a team and the fans do as well, but as the season go, I just feel like we’re going to make those plays. We’re going to be a pivotal part in our offense.”