(Photo: ASU Athletics)
Arizona State faced yet another road test against unranked Utah, a team that previously beat Stanford at home. ASU was coming in as a target especially since the Sun Devils historically don’t execute well on the road.
The 20-19 victory for ASU was an unnecessary nail-biter, but the result was what the Sun Devils needed to keep their hopes for the Pac-12 championship alive.
It was over when: Will Sutton intercepted a pass with just one minute remaining at the Utah 25. The Utes had a minute to comeback, but it was Sutton sealed the deal with an interception and the Sun Devil win was solidified.
Player of the Game: The Defensive Line. Along with Sutton’s interception and nine total tackles, Davon Coleman and Gannon Conway combined for 2.5 sacks and 11 total tackles. Jaxon Hood posted two tackles and although Marcus Hardison didn’t record any tackles his pass rushing looked much improved compared to the beginning of the season. Overall, the defensive line kept hope alive for a Sun Devil win during the team’s offensive struggles.
Biggest Concern: Special Teams. Although punter Alex Garoutte pinned two punts inside the 20, the return specialists are still struggling. Robert Nelson only fielded one of the six punts sent his way, which hurt the offense’s field position for many drives.
Unsung Hero: Rick Smith was a solid target for Taylor Kelly, catching every pass that came his way. Smith had four receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown that gave ASU a lead late in the fourth quarter. It’s obvious that Smith’s confidence is up since his performance against Wazzu last week.
Stat of the Game: -23; the number of yards rushing for quarterback Taylor Kelly, who still had two rushing touchdowns. Riddle me that.
What’s Next? Arizona State returns home to Sun Devil Stadium next weekend to take on the 6-3 Oregon State Beavers, who lead the Pac-12 in total pass offense with 404.8 yards per game. Arizona State ability to respond with the No. 1 pass defense in the Pac-12 will be key, as they have allowed only 204.8 yards per game and have 13 interceptions.