The Utah Utes lost 30-10 at home to the Arizona State Sun Devils. It was one of the worst games I have sat through at Rice-Eccles Stadium (up there with the 42-10 loss to Arizona in 2014 with some of the worst weather I’ve been in for a football game). For my grades, I am going to roll coaching and player grades into one for each side of the ball.
Offense - F
I do not take it lightly handing out an F, but what else can be said for that performance? Arizona State came into the game with two interceptions total in their previous six games, and they recorded four in this game, including a pick-six and another that set up a short field that led to a field goal. Quarterback Tyler Huntley was clearly not fully recovered from the injury he suffered against the Arizona Wildcats, and head coach Kyle Whittingham said this after the game as well. The offense totaled under 100 yards in the first half and only 265 total yards in the game. This is also the third game in a row where the opposing defenders said they knew what plays were coming, and it showed (though that could partially have been because of ASU’s penchant for stealing signs).
Defense - C
The defense gets a C, which is a passing grade. The defense did enough to help the team win the game. They held Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins to his lowest passing total this season, 140 yards on 19-of-29 passing with no touchdowns and one interception. His passer rating of 99.18 was the lowest of the season as well. The Sun Devils did more damage on the ground with 205 rushing yards on 46 carries, which was not stellar from the defense, but they held ASU to only 345 yards and 4.6 yards per play, their second-lowest totals for each metric this season (the lowest being their win over Washington last week). The other big knock on the defense is they could not get off the field on third down, allowing ASU to convert 8-of-16 third downs. The defense did not have a great performance, only recording one takeaway and one sack, but they effectively only gave up 20 points (due to the field goal off a short field and the pick-six). The defense was also on the field far too much because the offense could not get anything going for almost the entire game.
Special Teams - B
The kickoff and punt return teams did not manage to give Utah good field position at all during the game. Besides that, punter Mitch Wishnowsky and kicker Matt Gay did everything that you could ask of them. Wishnowsky consistently flipped the field, averaging just over 48 yards per punt. Gay connected on his only field goal attempt, a 53-yard field goal, his second-longest of the season.
The grades should reflect how this game went. The Utah offense did not show up at all, forcing the special teams and defense into a bunch of bad spots. The Utes were flat out out-coached in this game. The ASU defense knew what was coming from the Utah offense. On offense, ASU had a brilliant game plan to attack the Utah front. There were just not enough adjustments made by the coaches to counter what ASU was doing, and the result was an ugly loss at home to a team everyone expected Utah to beat.