That was about as dominating of a defensive performance as I’ve ever seen from the Utes, and that’s saying something given the last three Pac-12 performances for the Utes and their defense. How about this for a defensive performance:
ASU Yards: 136
Jayden Daniels passing yards: 25
Jayden Daniels total stats: 4 of 18, 1 INT
First downs: 8
QB pressures: almost every freaking play
The Utes were locked in and they were playing angry. Jaylon Johnson held ASU’s stud wideout, Brandon Aiyuk to just one catch for seven yards. Bradlee Anae and crew completely dominated the ASU front, and was in the backfield all game long. Man it was impressive.
The Utah offense started off strong, moving up and down the field throughout the first half, but turnovers really slowed down the Utes. On the second play from scrimmage Huntley hit Zack Moss for about a 50 yard pass, but Moss fumbled the ball and ASU returned it for 18 yards. On the ensuing drive, the Utes drove to inside the red zone and Demari Simpkins fumbled a would-be first down, ending another drive that should have ended in points. Utah was slicing up the Sun Devil defense until Tyler Huntley went down with a leg injury. Once he went down, the offense really came to a screeching halt. During that same drive, Zack Moss went down for a few plays after a very dirty targeting play by ASU. After a couple of plays by Drew Lisk, who did pick up a big 3rd down, on 4th and 9, Tyler Huntley came back onto the field and picked up a huge conversion to put Utah within the five yard line. On comes Zack Moss, and Moss waltzes into the end zone to give Utah a 14-0 lead going into half.
At the end of the half, things were getting chippy and dirty, and I think that shot Moss took really set off a bunch of Utes.
Utah ended the game with 342 yards, and almost 250 of those came in the first half, so you can see how much things really ground to a halt. Huntley couldn’t step into his throws, and even threw his first pick of the season. After a good chunk of the second half passing with Huntley being pretty immobile, the Utes put in Jason Shelley to give the offense some mobility behind center.
Speaking of that pick that Huntley threw, that was one of two turnovers that the Utes had deep in their own territory in the third quarter, and both turnovers resulted in just three points for ASU. The Devils actually lost 19 yards on both of those possessions, where they could have really made this a game. That was about as impressive of a stretch as I’ve seen from Utah in a while.
Utah’s offense finally sparked back up after a fumbled punt by ASU giving the Utes the ball at the +32. This is a play that will go down in Utah history, as Jason Shelley gave the ball to Zack Moss, and Moss did the rest taking the ball in for a 32 yard touchdown run, and giving him the all-time rushing record at Utah. At 21-3, it was game over at that point. It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but Utah covered the spread, and really beat ASU down.
Now the question will be is how does Tyler Huntley respond to this injury, and will we see him against Cal? It was encouraging that he was able to come back into the game and play, so it will likely depend on his mobility and pain management going into next week. Utah likely doesn’t need him next week, but I want to see him back on that field to help put Cal away, to get ready for Washington.
Big win for the Utes, as they move to 6-1 on the season and 3-1 in the Pac-12. Only bad health will keep the Utes from where they want to go, so hopefully we’ll see the guys who are banged up bounce back soon.