When you’re down three or four running backs, you need all the help you can get, and fortunately for Utah they could turn to a familiar name. After the BYU game, Utah running back Joe Williams hung them up, citing the physical and mental exhaustion from the game. Four weeks later, and three running back down, Utah has their original starting running back returning as Joe returned to practice today for the Utes.
Jon La Follette (former Block U contributor and current ESPN 700 producer) tweeted out that Joe is day by day, but could play on Saturday. He also stated that the team/coaches reached out to Joe first, after consulting with the team, and that he’s back for the full season and the team has his full support. (Check out Jon’s Twitter timeline for more twitter.com/espn700jon)
What does this mean? First, it means that Utah is getting some much needed running back depth, but there are some questions that come along with Joe’s return. Does he have the passion and energy to return? I’m guessing so, or else why return? Can he fix his ball security issues? Williams has fumbled in all but one game that he’s started (4 of 5). Also, how in shape is he? Being a month out, he can’t be too bad, but it’ll be interesting to see. Lastly, where would he fall in the depth chart? Of course, that will depend on Zack Moss and Troy McCormick’s health. Moss is probable for this game against OSU and McCormick (per Jon from Dennis Erickson) isn’t far behind.
There’s no doubt that he’s a very talented running back, and shouldered a great load last year when Devontae Booker went down, the hope for Utah fans and coaches are if he can recapture that talent. Williams told our Alex this fall that he wanted to be a 1500 yard back, and I believe he has that kind of ability (of course not in 6 games).
If Joe can come back to the team and be a contributor, and help this team win the Pac-12 South, this would make for a great redemption story. Joe’s a great young man, and I’m hoping he comes back how we all expected him to at the beginning of the season.
What are your thoughts on Joe’s return?