Utah moved one step closer to its goal of a division championship on Thursday evening, with a 49-26 win over Arizona State in Tempe. UteZone breaks down the performance of each position group in the big win.
After a pretty shaky first quarter, Troy Williams settled in and had him a career night with 296 yards passing and 4 TD's. His completion percentage still isn't up where it needs to be, 56% tonight, but he's doing a great job and leading the offense and making smart decisions. He also picked up some crucial yards in the run game, and helped extend drives that way. Overall, a good night for Troy.
Running Backs: A
15 carries for 186 yards and 2 TD's for Joe Williams. Man, this guy is incredible. Williams torched what is considered the best rushing defense in the conference, and did it with big plays. He showed exceptional patience and vision, and then turned on the after burners when needed. I can't praise him enough on how he has played the past 4 weeks. Zack Moss got just one carry tonight, not unusual since the game plan was clearly to pass the ball, and his one carry was a good one. There were a couple issues in pass protection by Williams tonight, but nothing catastrophic.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A-
What a night for Raelon Singleton. 4 catches for 126 yards and 3 TD's. He’s the first Ute with 3 receiving TD's in a game since 2006. Singleton showed strength and speed tonight, as he was able to get behind the secondary multiple times. Siaosi Wilson looks like a star in the making as well. He's really come on since the UCLA game, and his touchdown grab was nothing short of remarkable. Tim Patrick and Cory Butler-Byrd quietly had really good nights as well, and helped extend multiple drives with big catches. Not much from the tight ends in the pass game tonight, and aside from a couple issues in run blocking, by both the tight ends and receivers, they were pretty good blocking.
Offensive Line: A-
Facing a team that likes to bring pressure on almost every snap, they did a pretty dang good job. ASU had just one sack on the night, and there were some pretty good holes opened up in the run game. They receive negative marks for the miscue to open the game with the snap coming to early, and for two false starts on Jackson Barton. Though for this line, only 2 false starts is much better than in previous weeks. Garett Bolles and Isaac Asiata continue to just demolish people in the run game, and they may be the best LG-LT combo in the conference.
Defensive Line: A
It wasn’t a perfect performance as the defense got off to another slow start. There were some issues with contain, which included one of the worst defensive plays I’ve ever seen from a Utah defense. However, the Utes were able to turn it around into quite a dominating performance, particularly by the defensive line. Hunter Dimick had a career day tallying five sacks which is the most by any player this season and ties a Pac-12 record. He now has 27 career sacks at Utah, which ties the current school record. You can add another 1.5 tackles-for-loss for a total of 6.5 on the game. Pita Taumoepenu had one of his best games as a Ute as well adding 4 sacks of his own. He also showed improvement in the run game. Lowell Lotulelei and Bradlee Anae each added a sack to bring the total to 11 for the game. This is Utah’s third 10+ sack game since 2014. All of this results in Arizona State’s rushing attack being held to less than 1 yard a carry.
The linebacker crew had yet another mediocre performance. They continue to take bad angles on the edge and if they are in position, they are missing tackles. On one particular play, Barton had a running back wrapped up and instead of making the tackle, he ends up getting driven 10+ yards sideways and out-of-bounds. It was just bad. The unit also continues to struggle shedding blocks, often getting swallowed up by lineman moving to the second level. Between all three starting linebackers, they only accounted for 10 tackles in the game. Three of Barton’s tackles did result in a loss of yards though.
Marcus Williams didn’t waste much time letting everyone know he was back on the field for the Utes. After a disastrous first play by the Utah offense which resulted in a turnover, the Sun Devils had a short field and were looking for a quick score. Williams shut that down quickly with an excellent read and interception in the endzone. He really helped limit the passing attack of Arizona State and lead the team with nine tackles. Chase Hansen continues to be a playmaker as well. He had six tackles, two pass-breakups, and sealed the win for the Utes with an interception return for a touchdown. Aside from a few bad angles and some missed tackles, it was a great game for the Safety duo.
The cornerbacks had a bit of a rough game as well, giving up 355 passing yards to the Sun Devils. There were some broken coverage plays, particularly on a reverse pass and a double pass, both of which I believe involved Justin Thomas. Allen was playing really soft coverage and was slow to close the gap, resulting in some third down conversions. Hatfield completely whiffed a jam at the line and got beat for a touchdown. But, with that being said, your defense does not get 11 sacks on the night without good coverage in the secondary. Wilkins struggled finding open receivers all night and was still able to scramble away from the defensive line on quite a few plays. The Spotlite group made mistakes, but they deserve a lot of credit for the success of the line performance.
Editor's Note: Andrew Gorringe provided the offensive grades and Joel Davidson provided the defensive grades.