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ASU Football: Utah Players to Watch

The Utes’ revived running game and established defense should surely bring a scare to Sun Devil fans.  

NCAA Football: Washington at Utah
Utah Utes strong safety #22 Chase Hansen and defensive back and #29 Reginald Porter celebrate an interception against Washington   
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 15 Utah Utes look to bounce back from last week’s 31-24 loss against No. 4 Washington as they bustle into Tempe attempting to get their first win at Sun Devil Stadium since 1976.

Last week’s loss hurt the Utes badly.

Not only did they fail to make a national name for themselves in what could’ve been a historic top-five home win, but the Utes fell to third in the Pac-12 South Standings.

In order to stay in the race for first in the Pac-12 South, Utah is in desperate need of a road victory.

Road games have proven to be the toughest for the Utes. Against Power 5 opponents on the road, Utah has struggled winning by an average of 2.33 points.

They lost to California 28-23, barely got by Oregon State 19-14 and outscored UCLA 52-45.

Their offense proved to be lackluster early in the season, but its revived running game has brought Utah back into shape.

Their defense has managed to be one of the Pac-12’s best. Causing eight turnovers in the past three games, the Utes are a force not to be reckoned with.

Utah Players to Watch

RB Joe Williams 5-foot-11, 205 pounds

The 23-year-old senior running back has recently sparked a new sense of explosiveness into the Utes’ offense. After coming out of retirement, Williams has manipulated six touchdowns and 683 yards in his three-game return. He’s averaging 227.2 yards in three games and already broke a school-record with a 332-yard performance against UCLA. With Williams so hot, the Utah run game is primed to have another great performance.

SS Chase Hansen 6-foot-2, 212 pounds

At just a sophomore Hansen has already gotten a taste of three different positions for the Utes. In 2015 he played two games at quarterback before playing as a strong-safety and linebacker. Now as a true strong safety, he has made his presence as a leader in the secondary. Hansen leads the Utes with 58 tackles. He’s also caught two picks for 54 yards and is tied for a team high of two forced fumbles.

K Andy Phillips 5-foot-10, 210 pounds

The four-year starter has become one of the most reliable kickers in the Pac-12 in his senior season. If the Sun Devils were to play any team with a kicker nearly as good as senior Zane Gonzalez, Phillips comes close. He’s ninth alone in the Pac-12 in scoring with 71 points and has made 14 of 17 field goals. Phillips has scored 20 points in his last two games and should perform as a productive weapon for the Utes.

QB Troy Williams 6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Williams has not been the best fit for the Utes, but he’s done just enough to lead Utah to a 7-2 season. Coming from Southern California, he began playing at Washington, transferred to Santa Monica College, and has risen back to power-five football with the Utes. He’s fourth in the Pac-12 averaging 209.8 passing yards per game. The junior can also make use of his feet as he’s scored over one-third of his touchdowns on the run.