Utah heads to Tempe with high momentum

The Utah fans were so excited at the thought of upsetting rival No. 25 Brigham Young that they rushed the field, three times.

The Utes (2-1) want to take the energy from BYU on to ASU this weekend.

“I couldn’t be prouder of a group of guys than I was on Saturday night,” coach Kyle Wittingham said. “It was good to get back on the winning track and give us a little momentum heading into Pac-12 play this weekend at Arizona State.”

Utah heads into their first conference game riding a roller coaster of a season.

The low point came just after the Utes were upset by rival Utah State. Starting junior quarterback Jordan Wynn called it quits after a series of shoulder injuries.

The high point of the ride was of course last week, when they beat BYU with replacement senior quarterback Jon Hays.

Hays might look familiar to the Sun Devils (2-1). He faced ASU last season for an injured Wynn.

If the BYU game is any indication, the Utes have responded after the quarterback change. Sophomore receiver Dres Anderson said the team has made a good transition.

“He’s a great leader,” Anderson said. “Every time Jon’s on the field I’m just happy we got a leader, somebody to rally behind. He has faith in us, just as much as we have faith in him.”

When the Sun Devils were in Salt Lake City, Hays had trouble leading the Utes down the field due to turnovers. Hays threw three interceptions and only 199 yards.

The Utes also had two fumbles against the Cougars. To beat the Sun Devils in Tempe, the Utah players know that they need to sure that up.

“We don’t want any turnovers. That’s what killed us last year,” Anderson said. “We just got to make sure we play great situational football, convert on third downs and no turnovers.”

The Utes had no turnovers in their win against BYU.

Utah has not scored on its first drive this season. Anderson said achieving that has been the focus this week. If the Utes get out to a quick start offensively, he said they should have a strong chance of winning against ASU.

Defensively Utah is looking to stop the ASU rushing attack.

The Sun Devils were led on the ground last year by senior running back Cameron Marshall. Marshall has had a slow start to the year with only 81 yards.

Senior linebacker Dave Fagergren said the defense does not want Saturday to be Marshall’s breakout game.

“Cameron Marshall, he’s a good running back,” Fagergren said. “I just think that we need to tackle well, run to the football and have everybody give a hundred percent effort and I think that’s what we need.”

For Wittingham, he is concerned about ASU’s overall athleticism. He said the Sun Devils have speed at every position and that is what the coaches will be preparing for this week.

For the players, this week is all about starting off the conference season on the right foot. Last season the Utes started their inaugural Pac-12 season losing their first three conference games.

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu