Q & A with The Daily Utah Chronicle

Get the scoop on the No. 16 Utes from Kim Brenneisen of the Daily Utah Chronicle

This week, we connected with Daily Utah Chronicle sports editor Kim Brenneisen to help preview Thursday's Pac-12 South showdown between ASU and No. 16 Utah. Here's what she had to say:

The State Press: Quarterback play always seems to be a pertinent topic in the Pac-12 – ASU certainly has had it share of discussions about the performances Manny Wilkins and true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole stepping up in his absence. What can ASU fans expect to see from Troy Williams, and how has he matured since coming over from Washington? What makes him dangerous, and how has he adjusted to Utah's system?

The Daily Utah Chronicle: Troy Williams doesn't make too many mistakes, and if he does it's more or less a one time thing (except for when he threw three interceptions against BYU). He has yet to complete that deep shot this season, and it could very well come against ASU. Williams is able to read the defense fairly well, and he can run if he needs to make a quick escape. I also think much of Williams' success is because of his receivers. He has a great arsenal in that respect, and players like Tim Patrick and Evan Moeai want to make their quarterback look good.

Williams spent a year the junior college level, and this helped him develop his game. Since coming to Utah he has garnered the respect of his teammates, and he's a captain in his first year in the program. Utah's offense suits him, because the offensive line gives him plenty of time to scan the field, and the run game helps make it a balanced attack.

SP: What do the Utes attribute their success in close games to, and what kind of game do you sense they expect from ASU this time?

DUC: The Utes have had a lot of success late in games, and again a lot of that credit goes to that offensive line. The offensive line didn't start off the season on the right foot, but it is right where it needs to be now. Garrett Boles has been excelling, and he does a great job of protecting his quarterback. Williams also mentioned that after Boles makes a tackle he will come up to him and say, "Did you see that hit?!" However, it's the running game that has taken the spotlight.

Since returning from retirement, Joe Williams has been unstoppable for the Utes. He has registered 662 yards in the past three games, and he does a nice job of protecting the ball (something he didn't do well pre-retirement).

I think the Utes are expecting a good fight from ASU. For some reason Utah struggles with both of the Arizona Pac-12 schools, however, the additional days off helped the Utes get a better idea of what to expect from the Sun Devil squad, and they'll be prepared.

SP: Who are some offensive playmakers that ASU should watch out for Thursday?

DUC: Tim Patrick and Marcus Williams are a couple players to watch out for. Time and time again, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham has mentioned that Patrick is the go-to guy, and he can make a catch when he needs to. Marcus Williams may or may not play, the coaching staff is hopeful that he will, and he is a big playmaker for the defense. He causes the opposing team's quarterback to second guess himself, and he comes up with timely turnovers.

SP: Who have been some of the leaders for Utah on the defensive side?

DUC: Again, when Marcus Williams can play, he is one of those defensive leaders. Other than him, Chase Hansen has stepped up. Hansen came to Utah as a quarterback, but last year the team was short at safety, and he was willing to pitch in. He has fallen in love with the position since then, and he leads the team in tackles this season. And like Marcus Williams, Hansen can come up with a big play at an opportune time. Although Hansen doesn't always know what the opposing team's quarterback is thinking, his experience at the position helps him get a better read on them.

SP: And finally, your prediction?

DUC: I think Utah will win this game. There is a lot of the line for the Utes (the rest of the season, honestly), and they cannot afford to drop this game if they want to play in the Pac-12 Championship game. Utah will make this game unnecessarily hard, but I see the Utes pulling out a 30-20 win.

You can follow Kim on Twitter @kbrenneisen  and the Daily Utah Chronicle's coverage here.

Reach the reporter at smodrich@asu.edu or follow @StefanJModrich on Twitter.

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