Utes overwhelmed on both sides of line of scrimmage

(Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

“We got whipped tonight” were the first words out of coach Kyle Whittingham’s mouth after the game.

He was right. ASU was ready from the start of the game and took it to Utah, pounding the Utes 37-7.

Utah made some mistakes in the game like their three turnovers, but the Sun Devils had more energy at the start of the game. They struck first and often in the first quarter. When the teams switched sides to play the second, Utah was already in a 21-0 deficit.

The Utes had a hard time battling back from that the rest of the game.

“They had control of the game from start to finish,” Whittingham said. “We didn’t defend the run. We didn’t defend the pass. We didn’t run the ball well. We didn’t throw the ball well. Special teams were a non-factor.”

Going into this game, Utah’s strength was known to be up front on both sides of the ball. ASU took that as a challenge and won the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense.

ASU gained 163 yards on the ground and were able to contain the pressure brought by Utah’s defensive line.

Utah’s star defensive lineman senior Star Lotulelei played well recording five tackles but had no sacks.

The Utes’ pressure did get to ASU redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly during the game. They sacked him three times and got enough pressure to make Kelly throw it away a couple times.

“I would have liked to get to him more we got some good pressure on him, did some good things but it wasn’t enough obviously,” senior defensive tackle Dave Kruger said.

Utah also had some major miscommunications on defense, which led to big plays and the large ASU lead early in the game.

ASU’s first touchdown of the game came on a 38-yard pass from Kelly to senior receiver Rashad Ross. He was wide open on the sideline due to a missed assignment and easily ran to the end zone.

Junior safety Brian Blechen said Utah had some miscommunications due to the ASU scheme.

“(There were) just different guys losing their eyes,” Blechen said. “Not seeing a guy going across, so we’re flying with play action or if it’s deep their throwing a double move and we’re biting on the double move. We were just making uncharacteristic mistakes pretty much the first whole first half.”

On the Utah offensive side of the ball, the Utes could not deal with the pressure.

The ASU defensive line, led by redshirt junior Will Sutton, put the pressure on Utah senior quarterback Jon Hays. Sutton dominated the line of scrimmage early in the game finishing the night with 4 tackles, half a sack and one batted ball.

Whittingham said that the Utes simply did not have an answer for the ASU pressure.

“We got to have an answer for that,” he said. “We got to do a better job with some screens and some draws to make people think twice about bringing pressure.”

The Utes roll into a bye week and face USC on Oct. 4.

The phrase repeated among the players was they need to rededicate themselves to this season, and it starts with their next game against the Trojans.

Whittingham set the tone for the next week’s practices and the game against USC.

“This game is relentless, it’s brutal, it doesn’t wait for anybody, no one feels sorry for you, it keeps coming at you and it’s going to be coming at us in twelve days. We better be ready to answer the bell,” Whittingham said.

 

Reach the reporter at ehubbard@asu.edu