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Three Things To Watch: #13 Utah Vs. ASU

Sep 22, 2022, 2:52 PM
Cam Rising - Utah Utes vs. ASU...
Cameron Rising #7 of the Utah Utes throws a pass against the Arizona State Sun Devils during their game October 13, 2021 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY- The #13 Utah Utes will be back on the road since their season opener in Gainesville, this time flying to Tempe to take on an embattled ASU team. This trip will mark the beginning of Pac-12 play for the Utes as well as an opportunity to assert dominance in the league.

Contentious is a great way to describe the Utah versus Arizona State game as neither side seems to particularly care for the other. The 2022 version of the game has potential for extra drama due to the Sun Devils losing to Eastern Michigan last weekend and moving on from head coach Herm Edwards. Add in the Utes’ history with interim head coaches and suddenly what was once a straightforward matchup may have gotten a little more interesting. With that said, here are three things to watch as Utah takes on ASU.

A Faster Start Against ASU

It’s not the end of the world for the Utes if they don’t figure out how to get off to a quicker start in the first quarter offensively, but it is a nice luxury to have.

Last week quarterback Cam Rising and the Utah offense struggled to find a rhythm the first quarter and a half of play against San Diego State. Mind you, once everyone got on the same page midway through the second quarter, the Utes were lights out.

As coach Whittingham mentioned after practice on Tuesday, it’s impossible for a team to always be on every quarter of every game, but it still doesn’t mean you don’t shoot for it. Getting off to a quicker start may not mean much in most of the rest of the games Utah will play this season, though it is hard to look at USC right now and not think that could be a huge factor.

Regardless, Utah is in a place where nit-picking and taking things up another notch when they can will only help them moving forward.

No One Hit Wonders

Despite the slow start on offense, Utah did manage to finally get their receivers going and involved in the game. In fact, Devaughn Vele and Solomon Enis accounted for three of Utah’s five touchdowns last weekend. Talk about ending a drought.

With that said, it will be important for the Utes to keep those receivers involved along with the tight ends and running backs the rest of the season. In the past, Utah has seemed like they finally got their receivers rolling, but then reverts back to never seeing them again.

To be clear, it’s not that there won’t be games where one group perhaps carries the load more than the others depending on what a defense is giving them. However, it will be important to see the Utes continuing to go to the receivers along with the other position groups in order to try and keep defenses honest.

Full Steam Ahead

You know who didn’t start slow last weekend for the Utes? The defense. They were back to their mean, nasty, aggressive selves right out of the gate against SDSU, and that attitude needs to be here to stay.

While yes, there is some question as to how much the opponent had to do with the Utes’ turnaround on defense from their first outing in The Swamp, the coaching staff has come out and said they are encouraged by the proper use of technique that wasn’t there week one.

If that is in fact the case, lets see how that proper technique works for the Utes against better competition again. Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley noted that ASU is tough up front on the offensive line which gives their running backs and quarterback room to run. That is exactly what killed the Utes against Florida and should hopefully provide a better test for where Utah’s front seven currently is.

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