News came down Wednesday morning that Utah senior wide receiver Dres Anderson was lost for the season due to a knee injury. Anderson was a superstar for the Utes over the past few seasons: He had 355 yards and four touchdowns on 25 receptions this season.
In last season's game against Utah, Anderson had four receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Sun Devils. On the most basic of levels, the Utes lose their biggest threat in the receiving game. The Utah passing game is already in shambles because of the quarterback controversy, and the Utes haven't had too much success throwing the ball to begin with this season. Utah was only averaging 192.7 yards through the air, but losing Anderson cements the ability of Utah to gain yards on the ground as a determining factor Saturday.
The biggest strength for the Arizona State defense lies in the secondary and linebackers with Laiu Moeakiola and Damarious Randall. Head coach Todd Graham already blitzes a ton, but with a limping Utah passing game, expect the Sun Devils to design even more blitzes to pressure Utah quarterback Travis Wilson and stop running back Devontae Booker early on. Lloyd Carrington probably would have had the first chance on man-on-man coverage with Anderson because Kweishi Brown has struggled in covering deeper passes where Anderson would have been targeted.
Now Carrington's primary assignment is most likely Utah's next biggest receiving threat in junior Kenneth Scott, who has 25 catches for 252 yards and three touchdowns so far this year, but senior Kaelin Clay could be the X-factor for the Utes. He has 16 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown but he also has four touchdowns on special teams. If Clay can step up in the receiving game too, then losing Anderson might not be as large of a blow for Utah as it seems.
In the bigger picture, if the Sun Devils win Saturday, it won't be considered as impressive by the College Football Playoff Committee as it was prior to Anderson's injury because the committee takes injuries into account when ranking teams.