The stats were poor. Really can't spin it any other way. Wilson didn't play well, but either he's not being given a chance to make plays and Utah wants him to be as conservative as possible, or he's making throws to eliminate mistakes first and make plays second. That's a backwards philosophy. Too many first read throws, or first reads followed by a quick scramble and throw it out of bounds. Travis was moderately effective in the run game and probably should have had his number called there more often. Let's be honest though; 57 yards passing is just unacceptable and this has to be fixed or the final 4 games could be tough.
Running Back: B
Another week and another 100 yards for Devontae Booker. Didn't break any big ones, and that's hard to do against a defense that is sending 37 guys to stop the run on each play, but was still effective in grinding out yards despite a line that wasn't blocking well and a throw game that was non-existent. Amazing that he had 146 yards against that many defenders on each play. Booker did start wearing down a bit late in the game, picking up only 14 yards on his final 8 carries. You have to wonder if the week to week punishment he's taking in carrying the ball that many times (and he took a few big hits from ASU defenders) is starting to wear on him. Booker was not very good in pass protection, and that's probably why you saw Poole in there at times, although he didn't receive any carries. Maybe this would have been a good game to get Poole involved with a few screens to counteract the ASU pass rush and blitzes.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: C-
Hard to make much of an impact when you aren't throwing the ball down the field. The short throws that are either by design, or by Wilson choosing not to throw it longer than 5 yards, means that the ASU corners can play up on their man, which in turn allows them to help more in the run game. Tim Patrick looks like he might be the best remaining receiver, but the production just isn't there form the group as a whole, not they they were given much of a chance to do anything. 2 touches by Kaelin Clay for minus 2 yards? Seriously? Give the guy a chance to catch something down the field. I'm not going to hold this against the receivers too much. Hard to do anything when no one will let you have a ball thrown your way.
Offensive Line: D+
Too much pressure on Wilson. Few holes opening up for Booker, who again had to do a lot on his own. Granted, they were facing blitzers on almost every single play, but they couldn't pick it up, whether it was in the throw game or run game. After last week's step forward, this was a step back.
Defensive Line: C+
Early struggles by the line, similar to last week against USC, and that allowed ASU to march down the field. No pressure and the interior was getting blown up, especially Ianu and Shepard and we didn't see much from Lotulelei. Then Sitake adjusted and Kelly was under pressure a ton with Dimick picking up 2 sacks and 3 tackles for loss, while Orchard had his weekly sack. Seni Fauonuku had a big sack as well where he abused his blocker and drove him straight back. Pita Taumoepenu was a monster coming off of the edge and forcing pressure on Kelly more and more as the game went on. The line did lose containment on Kelly a few times in the run game and ASU early success in the run game was often due to a lack of penetration. Not their greatest performance of the season, but 8 or 9 other Pac 12 teams would easily take this kind of success against a potent ASU team from their DL.
Not their best performance despite the fact that ASU only scored 16 regulation points. Early on they were struggling, not able to shed blocks in the run game, and the Devils were picking up chunk yardage on the ground. Got better as the game went on, but too many big plays on the ground by ASU. Paul did have the interception, and he was pretty close to taking it all the way back. Stiffened later, but those big run plays kept popping up from time to time.
Dominique Hatfield did a great job of limiting Jaelen Strong on Saturday. He had him locked up for much of the game. Arguably Domo's best performance to date despite the dropped pick. Justin Thomas' dropped INT hurt a little, but he was strong again on short passes and in run support. Saved a couple of long runs from going longer. Orphey gave up the touchdown pass (when they ball looked like it went through his body), but had a decent game with 2 pass breakups. 6 passes defended combined out of the starters.
Maybe the best game we've seen out of the safeties this year as Morgan Scalley had them ready to play. Very few breakdowns and didn't get beat with the deep ball. Marcus Williams has come a long ways since September and was a tackling machine. Blechen had one of the plays of the game with his shed and tackle that prevented a big gain. Tremendous overall support in the passing game from the safeties.
Special Teams C+
Andy Phillips is allowed to miss kicks. He's made too many big ones for anyone to freak out over one miss, although it was a big one. His 50 yarder early in the game may have been good from 65. It was a bomb. Tom Hackett was Tom Hackett in the punt game and Kaelin Clay was Kaelin Clay in the return game on one leg.
Maybe we should start splitting this up into offensive and defensive coaching. The offensive coaches get an F. Same thing over and over again in the play calling by Christensen. No imagination, no trickeration, no 'let's try something different.' How about a fleak-flicker to maybe catch the defense off guard? A double reverse? Bring in Kendal Thompson for a play or two to run the option? Punt it on first down? Do something outside the box!!!!! Defensively things went as planned again. Some rough patches early, but they again adjusted like Utah always does. Sitake keeps building his profile. Credit to Shah and Scalley for having their guys ready to play.
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