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ASU vs. Utah: Positional Grades

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A couple of units were instrumental in the Sun Devils' win. Which ones? Spoiler: defense.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the dust has settled on Arizona State's thrilling, overtime victory over Utah it is time to hand out some positional grades to each unit on the Arizona State team. Find out how each unit graded out below.

Quarterbacks: C

It was an average night for Taylor Kelly, as the senior signal caller went 18-of-32 for 205 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Watching Kelly throw last night, it seemed that the offense was a a few seconds off. Several of Kelly's throws went either a step in front or behind a wide receiver and a few were just off the mark in general.

Kelly also threw a bad interception in the second quarter and probably should have had a few more picked off by the Utah defense. However, the Utah defense sacked Kelly four times and kept applying pressure and collapsing his pocket. There is no doubt the success of the offensive line has a direct result in how a quarterback plays, and the Sun Devil offensive line was not good in pass protection last night.

Running Backs: A-

How about the play of Demario Richard? The 17-year-old true freshman running back tallied a career-high 116 yards on 14 carries. Richard showed excellent burst and great vision both behind the line of scrimmage and in the open field. Richard broke a run of 32 yards and averaged 8.3 yards per carry.

D.J. Foster carried the ball 10 times for 53 yards and Kalen Ballage totaled 15 yards on five rushes. Utah came into the game boasting one of the top rushing defenses in the nation and the Sun Devils rushed for 239 yards and averaged over five yards per carry.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B-

Wide receivers caught just nine passes against Utah, with five of them coming from a man named Jaelen Strong. Cameron Smith and Gary Chambers combined to catch four passes for 81 yards. Chambers seems to have a knack for catching passes in big situations (see Washington and USC). Kody Kohl caught two passes for eight yards.

Strong caught the only touchdown pass of the game, a six-yard strike from Kelly in the second quarter. Foster led the team with six receptions.

Offensive Line: C+

This grade is a mixture of two phases. The offensive line was very good in run blocking– if this grade was run blocking along, it would be an A or an A-. Arizona State averaged 5.6 yards per carry on the ground and the offensive line was a major driving force behind that. They did a nice job exploding off the line of scrimmage and opening holes for the Sun Devil running backs.

Now the bad. Pass protection. Kelly was sacked four times and was under pressure all night. Granted, Arizona State, for the second straight week, was facing one of the most ferocious  pass rushes in the conference. Nate Orchard collected 10 tackles and a sack and Hunter Dimick added six tackles and two sacks of his own. Jamil Douglas did not have a good night at left tackle in pass protection.

Defensive Line: B-

Marcus Hardison continues to have a great season. Hardison led the defensive line with seven solo tackles and a sack. The defensive line did not have many opportunities to rush the passer, as Utah quarterback Travis Wilson attempted just 22 passes. The Sun Devils did give up 184 yards on the ground against the Utes, but it came on 52 carries for an average of just 3.5 yards per carry.

Linebackers: A-

Antonio Longino has arguably been Arizona State's best defensive player since moving from SPUR to WILL linebacker. Longino finished second on the team with 11 total tackles. Salamo Fiso was all over the field against Utah, collecting seven solo tackles and a tackle for loss.

Even though Devonte Booker ran for 146 yards, he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and his longest run was 16 yards.

Secondary: A

The Arizona State secondary continues to impress. Both Armand Perry and Llyod Carrington collected sacks Saturday night and Jordan Simone led the Sun Devils with 13 tackles, including 10 solo tackles. Carrington finished the game with seven tackles and two tackles for loss.

The Sun Devils were able to force Utah to be one demential on offense. The Utes, minue leading receiver Dres Anderson, completed just 12 passes for 57 yards. The Sun Devil secondary did a nice job stopping big plays and limiting the Utah passing game.