Coming off of their first road win of the season, the Arizona State University Sun Devils are feeling good about themselves again.
It was an emotional 38-35 victory over USC as the Sun Devils finally came up on top in a close game.
ASU now returns back to Tempe for a big challenge against the No. 16 Utah Utes.
Utah is on a four-game winning streak, and would all but lock up the Pac-12 South with a win Saturday in Tempe.
Let’s look at what makes Utah a successful team.
A dynamic rushing attack
Utah is going to try and run the ball. They have a dual-threat quarterback junior Tyler Huntley and a really good running back in junior Zack Moss.
Moss has totaled more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns while making opposing defenses look silly. UCLA on Saturday was the latest victim as Moss went for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns at the Rose Bowl.
Stopping him will be the focal point for ASU’s defense, who have at times done a nice job of limiting the run but has also had a fair amount of struggles.
The Arizona State defense will do everything in their power to make the Utes beat them in the air, as Huntley isn’t very comfortable being forced to be a pocket passer.
Huntley has rushed for over 400 yards this season, and is very tough to bring down in the open field.
Sophomore Britain Covey is the ultimate Swiss Army knife for the Utes.
His stats don’t jump off of the page, but he’s constantly making plays in a variety of ways that has helped Utah win games this season.
Covey plays wide receiver, returns kicks/punts and has even thrown for two touchdowns this season.
He’s undersized at 5’8”, and has used his tremendous speed to beat defensive backs all season.
ASU will have their hands full trying to contain Covey, we’ll see if the Sun Devil secondary is up to the challenge.
A top-level defense
The Sun Devil offense has had their troubles against elite defenses this season. The challenge won’t get any easier against Utah.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham’s defense is seventh in the country in yards per game allowed, as they’ve only surrendered an average of 287 yards per contest.
ASU offensive coordinator Rob Likens, knows the trouble most offenses face when facing the Utes. It will be a battle of attrition, ASU will want to run the ball through Eno Benjamin against a Utah run defense that only allows an average of 81.1 yards per rush, good for third best in the nation.
Players to watch on Utah’s defense include senior linebacker Chase Hansen and junior defensive end Bradlee Anae. Hansen leads the Utes in tackles and has compiled an astounding 14 tackles for loss on the season. Anae is Utah’s sack leader with six and is a force coming off the edge.