Not many expected the Devils to pull of the victory, let alone the way they did. An 18-point victory over the formerly No. 15 Utes has given the Devils a jump from last to just a half-game out of first place in the Pac-12 South.
So with everything that was fantastic on Saturday, here is the good, the great and the greatest.
Manny Wilkins did a great job running the offense in this game.
Individually, this was one of his best showings of the season. Missing on only five of his 24 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns; all to N’Keal Harry. He did have a turnover but it was also the only turnover for the Devils.
Wilkins said he overcame the adversity with the support of his teammates.
“’We got you’. That’s what they said,” Wilkins recounted. “I came out and went down the sideline and everybody was like ‘We’re good’ There were no down faces, there was no negative energy at all. I think that’s what lets this team be able to persevere.”
If Wilkins continues leading the offense the way he has the past two weeks, ASU could find themselves on top after Thanksgiving weekend.
If there is one way to neutralize a struggling offense it is to shut down their passing, and ASU certainly was up to the task.
The pass coverage was highlighted by three interceptions; including two from freshmen Merlin Robertson and Aashari Croswell.
Robertson’s fantastic performance also awarded him his first Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week award.
.@_Merlin_2 was on .— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 5, 2018
- Nine tackles with one TFL
- Led ASU defense that held the Utes to only 325 yards for the game
- Picked up his first career interception
He is your #Pac12FB Defensive Player of the Week ➡️ https://t.co/oX8H2tSVoY pic.twitter.com/HGAWvBfQpb
Overall the defense held strong on all fronts. They limited Utah to just 147 passing yards and 178 yards on the ground.
“It feels good knowing that we played a very good team and we did our assignments,” linebacker Tyler Johnson said. “We had some mental errors but we came back and we stopped them so it’s a good team win. Everyone was doing their jobs and when we work all together, it feels different.”
Certainly a strong day for a young defense recovering from a tough week against USC.
The offense had two strong individual performances out of running back Eno Benjamin and wide receiver N’Keal Harry.
The two combined for all five touchdowns on the day and 336 of the total offensive yards.
Harry’s 161 yards and three touchdowns helped him run away with Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.
That connection tho.— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) November 5, 2018
- Caught nine passes for 161 yards
- Had touchdown receptions of 3, 23 and 61 yards
- Recorded a career high three touchdowns in ASU’s 38-20 upset of No. 16 Utah@NkealHarry15 is your #Pac12FB Offensive Player of the Week ➡️ https://t.co/oX8H2tSVoY pic.twitter.com/v0cIF5S09g
““No surprise really. That’s N’Keal, that’s what he does,” Benjamin said following Saturday’s game. “You guys know that as well. I think he played his role, I think we all did a great job playing our roles in this game and just like Manny (Wilkins) said, we came out and did what we had to do to get this win.”
Benjamin now has rushed for over 100 yards in six of the nine games played this season, Harry is getting some love through the air and Wilkins is leading strong offensive drives with less and less mistakes.
Will the strong performances on both ends of the ball continue, or will the Devils fall flat on their face watching the competition run by?