RECAP: ASU Dominates for 60 Minutes, Crushes Utah 30-10
By Michael Baron // Football Beat Writer for Blaze Sports
SALT LAKE CITY, UT For the first time since 2015, ASU football (4-3 overall, 3-1 Pac-12 Conference) won on the road in Pac-12 Conference play, beating the University of Utah, 30-10. It is also the first time ASU has won in Salt Lake City since 2013.
“Really proud of our players and our staff for coming in here and playing like we did and it’s just really gratifying to see the fruits of our labor coming to pass on the field,” ASU head coach Todd Graham said. “The team we beat today is a really good football team…and just proud on all three phases.”
ASU kicked three field goals on their first three offensive possessions of the football game to lead 9-0. But perhaps the first backbreaker for Utah came on a nine play, 94-yard ASU touchdown drive toward the end of the first half. The drive was finished off by a 1-yard touchdown run by senior running back Demario Richard with 40 seconds remaining.
But once again, perhaps the most effective unit for ASU was the defense as they held the Utah offense to just 108 yards in the first half. At the break, it was 16-0 Sun Devils and the home crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium had been effectively silenced.
“If you come to our practices, it’s up-tempo. [The coaches] don’t let anything slide,” redshirt junior linebacker Christian Sam said. “We’re going to keep getting better, keep learning, keep growing and good things are going to happen and as you see, our hard work is paying off in practice: offensively, defensively and special teams.”
The second backbreaker for the Utes came on ASU’s first offensive possession of the second half, but for multiple reasons.
After Utah got on the scoreboard with a 53-yard field goal, ASU then proceeded to march down the field on a 12-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run courtesy of redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins. The score became 23-3 Sun Devils with 4:45 left in the third quarter.
“I think we executed a little bit better on offense,” Wilkins said. “I made some better decisions.”
However, on that same drive, the Utes defense lost two defensemen to targeting penalties. Utah’s Donovan Thompson and Corrion Ballard were both disqualified from the contest.
The third and final backbreaker for Utah occurred almost midway through the fourth quarter, as Utah starting quarterback Tyler Huntley threw a pick six. Tight-end-turned-linebacker Jay Jay Wilson returned the ball 20 yards for a touchdown and the Devils opened up a 30-3 road advantage.
“He picked that same ball off in practice, I’m not going to lie to you,” Sam said.
Run Game Emerges
ASU’s offense put up a total of 345 yards in the game, but it was not mainly due to the arm of Wilkins.
Last Saturday vs. then-No. 5 Washington, ASU only managed 40 yards on the ground. Against Utah, the Sun Devils garnered 205 yards on 46 rushing attempts.
“I think it’s just attitude,” Wilkins said. “I think our guys came out with an attitude that we needed to run the ball in this game to win this game and we creased a couple runs that were really big momentum runs.”
Richard led the way for the Sun Devils with 93 yards and a touchdown.
“It’s not all about me, though, it’s the o-line,” Richard said. “They start to get that push up front and without that push up front, we can’t run the ball. We struggled the first couple of weeks, but we have everything gelling together and we’re rolling now.”
With the 30-10 win at Utah, ASU’s 3-1 record now stands at second in the Pac-12 South Division standings. It should set up for a very intriguing matchup next week.
What’s next for ASU
ASU returns to Tempe and will face the No. 11 USC Trojans, who currently lead the Pac-12 South at 4-1 in conference play. Saturday’s kickoff from Sun Devil Stadium is set for 7:45 p.m. as first place in the Pac-12 South will be on the line. The game can be heard here on Blaze Radio, as Weston DeWitt and Braiden Bell will be on the call.
Michael Baron is a football reporter for Blaze Sports. You can reach him at email@example.com or follow Michael on Twitter @Michael_Baron96