After a week off the Utes have an on the road matchup against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe, Arizona. Both teams are coming off of a BYE this week, which has given both teams the opportunity to work on getting their players healthy. Here are three keys to beating Arizona State.
1. Smart offensive play
While the Utes have made progress upfront on offense it has struggled constantly to control the penalties on the line. During the game against Washington the Utes gave up 65 yards on 10 penalties and nine of those were on offense. Another issue that seems to be lingering around the Utes offense is passing game. Utah quarterback, Troy Williams struggled significantly through the air against the Huskies completing only 45 percent of his passes. With the pressure that Arizona State will place on Troy Williams, it will be more important than ever for him to get rid of the ball quickly and focus more on the weakness of the Sun Devils in the passing game. The bright spot on offense continues to be the return of running back, Joe Williams and his ability to pound the ball down the field. If the Utes want to win out and go to the PAC 12 Championship game they have got to take care of these issues and not rely solely on Joe Williams’ running game.
2. Key players return
Utah’s BYE could not have come any later in the season and probably was much needed a few weeks earlier. The depth hits taken to Utah’s roster have been abundant this season and more than overstated but with last week’s opportunity for a BYE the Utes may finally have the opportunity to bring back some of their key players. As mentioned previously, the Utes have struggled with over twenty injured players this season and slowly but surely they are making their way back on the field. While Tim Patrick was back in the game against Washington and led the team in passing yards, he still did not look completely healthy. Some of the most questionable players we would like to see return this week include Marcus Williams, Harrison Hadley and Cory Butler-Byrd.
3. Stop ASU’s running game
While not as dramatic as Utah’s problems with injuries this season, Arizona State has had their fair share. Just like the Utes, the Sun Devils are coming off of a BYE week and this has given them the opportunity to bring back several of their missing starters including quarterback, Manny Wilkins. Wilkins is a sophomore and a dual threat quarterback who makes huge plays on his feet. With four additional legs in the backfield at running back in Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage the Utah defense will have to prepare for three productive runners including Wilkins. Together these three players combine for over 1,500 yards on offense. This should prove to be an interesting matchup with the Utes sitting at the top half of the PAC 12 in rushing defense.
Utah’s matchup against Arizona State could prove to be a challenge especially in an away battle in Tempe on senior night. The Utes defeated the Sun Devils last year for the first time since joining the PAC 12 and history shows that Utah has consistently struggled in this environment. Could this be Utah’s first victory at Sun Devil Stadium since joining the PAC 12?