This week in the ‘Film Room’, UteZone will be analyzing crucial plays that occurred Thursday night versus Arizona State. The biggest takeaway after our review, offensively Utah didn’t do anything exotic, the players just stepped up and made plays, that should be very encouraging for Ute fans.
1. 2ND Quarter – 1st and 10 at Utah’s 36-yard line
Utah had the absolute worst offensive start in the 1st quarter, they just could not get anything going. The Ute defense held strong and limited Arizona State to 13 points even though they had multiple possessions with favorable field position. Utah got the ball towards the end of the first and had gained their first 1st down of the game. Starting the 2nd quarter, Utah picked up another 1st down and was set up 1st & 10 at the ASU 36-yard line.
Lined up in the Pistol formation with 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 TE), Patrick and Singleton split out wide, while Moeai and Hampel line up next to each OT. Arizona State lined up in 4-3, with their Spur backer lined up to the outside of the TE, the cornerbacks in press man coverage and 2 safeties deep. The safeties are somewhat staggered, with the deepest safety to Patrick’s side of the field.
After the snap, Troy gives a hard fake at the mesh point with Joe Williams running up the middle, which holds the the safety to Raelon’s side for a split second. The Sun Devils only rush 4 and drop 7 into coverage, however the cornerback covering Singleton is left on an island with no help over the top. As mentioned, the safety was held for a second due to the fake handoff, which allowed Hampel to get on him as he ran a vertical to the center of the field. Raelon Singleton got a free release off the line and just blew by Kareem Orr for the 64-yard touchdown, and the spark the Utah offense needed.
2. 2ND Quarter – 3rd and 7 Arizona State’s 24-yard line
Utah just scored, and the defense feeding off the momentum generated by the offense has the Arizona State offense in a 3rd and long situation. Arizona State lines up in a trips left formation with a single back in the backfield, the third inside receiver motions across the formation for a 2x 2 look. The Utah defense comes out lined up in their standard 4-2-5, and a cover 2 press man look.
At the snap though, Marcus, Chase, and Domo all break hard into a cover 3. Not only that, but Filipo and Hunter drop off the line into coverage and the Utah defense only rushes Pita and Pasoni. Which is all they would need, as Pita blows by the left tackle and gets to Wilkins for the sack. For Manny Wilkins, reading a standard play pre-snap, to all of a sudden 9 in coverage, had to make him think for that extra second. This was a big stop and another momentum building play for the Utes.
3. 2ND Quarter – 1st and 10 at Arizona State’s 27-yard line
Looking to continue the momentum, the Utes offense did not let up after the big Pita T sack. Cory Butler-Byrd took a bubble screen for a first down, and Joe Williams had another big run for 11 yards setting up the Utes at the Arizona State 27-yard line.
The offense in 11 personnel and a 2 x 2 set with Siaosi Wilson and Tyrone Smith split out wide, Demari Simpkins in the slot, and Evan Moeai off the line. Arizona State lines up in 4-3, with 2 safeties deep in a staggered look with the deeper safety lined up over Demari in the slot.
After the snap, the deep safety drops to the middle of the field in a cover 1, and the Utes max protect only releasing 3 receivers on routes. With ASU in a cover 1, Simpkins runs a 15-yard dig route which draws the deep safety up to cover him, and that leaves Siaosi and Tyrone one-on-one outside. Siaosi comes off the line hard and eats up the cushion given by the CB, as he gets to the 10 yard mark, he breaks inside like he would on a post route, which forces the CB to flip his hips inside, and then Siaosi breaks back outside to the corner. Troy throws a near perfect ball right to the front pylon and Siaosi makes an unbelievable catch, giving the Utes their first lead of the game.
4. 3RD Quarter– 1st and 10 Utah’s 18-yard line
Arizona State opened up the 2nd half with the ball and drove all the way to the Utah 24-yard line before some timely penalties and tackles for loss put the Devils all the way back to the 50 and punting. Utah got the ball at their own 18-yard line and ran one play for a score.
Lining up in the Pistol and trips right in 12 personnel. Arizona State lined up again in their 4-3 defense with their Spur backer splitting the difference between the slot receiver and the TE, and the FS lined up deep over Siaosi.
Utah runs an outside zone run play to the right. On this play, there are no lineman pulling, or down blocks, every block flows toward the play side. Basically the offensive linemen move laterally down the line blocking area rather than actual man assignments. On these outside zone plays, the running back typically has a landmark of the outside hip (which is in the B gap) of the playside guard. That’s the running backs target, but he’s reading the line looking for any crease to cut up field.
Salesi Uhatafe does just enough to block Tashon Smallwood down the line, Nick Nowakowski seals off the backside defender, and Jackson Barton does a good job blocking the play side linebacker. Joe see’s the small crease and cuts up field, DJ Calhoun was unblocked and had a clear path to make the tackle but he goes for the big hit and Joe, who has been running with a completely different mentality, just bounces off the hit and turns on the jets for an 82 yard touchdown run.
5. 4TH Quarter - 3rd and 2 at Arizona State’s 31
Utah is up 9 with 6 minutes to go, so there is still a chance for Arizona State to win this one. They were backed up into their own enzone after a sack from Hunter Dimick, but got out of tough situation on a screen to RB Kalen Ballage.
Arizona State lined up in 2x2 shotgun formation in 11 personnel, with the TE to the short side of the field. Utah countered with their 4-2-5, Marcus Williams was the lone deep safety, and Chase Hansen lined up man-to-man on the TE in the slot. Chase has developed into quite the playmaker and on this play, he makes another unbelievable play.
After the snap, the TE released and ran right into Chase, almost pushing off, and then broke outside on an out route. It drove Chase back a step or two though, but being the athlete he is, that didn’t matter much. After getting knocked back, Chase turns his head to the QB as soon as his back foot hits the turf. That’s a nuance in coverage, and something that comes from being taught the right way and playing experience. With his eyes on Wilkins, he see’s that he’s throwing it to the TE, so he breaks upfield rather than towards the TE, and intercepts the pass and takes it all the way for a touchdown, sealing the victory for the Utes.