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Utah (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12) begins Pac-12 Conference play this Saturday, playing Arizona State (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12) on Saturday, Sept. 22 in Tempe, Ariz. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. MST (8 p.m. MDT) in Sun Devil Stadium and will be televised nationally on the Pac-12 Network. Radio is ESPN700 AM (espn700sports.com) and SIRIUS/XM (132/190).
> Utah trails the series with ASU 17-6 and has lost the last eight games, including the last six in Tempe. Until last year, the two teams had not met since 1993. See page 2 for complete series history.
- Utah (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. Arizona State (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12)
- Date: Saturday September 22, 2012
- Time: 7:00 p.m. MST (8:00 p.m. MDT)
- Site: Sun Devil Stadium (71,706/Grass)
- TV: Pac-12 Networks
- Radio: ESPN700, SIRIUS (132), XM (190)
- Series Record: ASU leads 17-6
- Last Meeting: 2011 (ASU 35-14)
- Kickoff Weather: Clear, temps in the low 90s
Arizona State holds a 17-6 series lead and has won the last eight games—six which were played in Tempe. Utah's last win was a 31-28 verdict in Tempe in 1976 when both teams were members of the Western Athletic Conference. Last year's Pac- 12 contest marked their first rematch since 1993.
> While Utah has not beaten ASU in Tempe since 1976 when both teams were members of the Western Athletic Conference, the Utes did win the last time they played in Sun Devil Stadium, beating Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.
> With last week's 24-21 win over No. 25 Brigham Young, Kyle Whittingham improves to 8-8 against teams ranked in the AP Top 25.
> Strong safety Brian Blechen will play for the first time this season after serving a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules. Starters who missed last week's win over BYU but who are expected to play against ASU are running back John White and free safety Eric Rowe.
>Tom Hackett, a freshman punter from Melbourne, Australia, became Utah's first 2012 Pac-12 Player of the Week after last week's win over BYU. Hackett, playing in his first American football game, had all three of his punts downed inside the BYU 10-yard line. Hackett pinned the Cougars on their 5-yard line once and their 8-yard line twice, the last coming before BYU's final possession of the game.
IN THE HUDDLE
Utah has two players from Arizona and both are from the Phoenix area. Senior receiver Luke Matthews (Phoenix) and freshman offensive lineman J.J. Dielman (Ahwatukee) both attended Desert Vista High School ... For the second-straight season, Utah has lost starting quarterback Jordan Wynn to a shoulder injury. Wynn announced his retirement from football on Sept. l0 after suffering the fourth shoulder injury of his career against Utah State on Sept. 7 ... Six Utes made their first career starts against BYU, including three freshmen. Getting their first starts as Utes were true freshman offensive tackle Jeremiah Poutasi, redshirt freshman running back Jarrell Oliver, redshirt freshman linebacker LT Filiaga, junior tight end Westlee Tonga, senior linebacker Boo Andersen and sophomore safety Tyron Morris-Edwards ... Utah started two former walk-ons at safety vs. BYU: Morris-Edwards and Quade Chappuis ... Two true freshmen have played for Utah this season: quarterback Travis Wilson and OL Poutasi. ### TWO-MINUTE DRILL
Jon Hays' first career start came against ASU last year--a 35-14 Utah loss ... Utah has not allowed a point in the third quarter ... The offense's best quarter is the third (34 points) ... Dating back to last season, Utah is 9-0 when John White rushes for 100 yards ...With White sidelined last week, the Utes netted just 49 yards on the ground, averaging 1.4 yards per carry ... 15 players have caught passes for Utah this season ... The defense has scored two touchdowns this season on an interception return by Joe Kruger and a fumble return by Moe Lee. ### OUTSIDE THE LINES
Utah's win over BYU last week was its eighth in the last 11 games and its third-straight victory over the Cougars. The two teams meet in Provo next season before the rivalry takes a two-year hiatus. They will play in Salt Lake City in 2016 ... The Utes have sold out 14-straight games in 45,017-seat Rice-Eccles Stadium, including every game since 2010. Last week's crowd of 45,653 for the BYU game was the sixth-largest in stadium history. ### UTE-TWEETS
Kyle Whittingham's first career win came in Sun Devil Stadium against Pitt as the co-head coach of Utah's 2005 Fiesta Bowl team #utes ... Whittingham is 8-8 all-time vs. Pac-12 schools (4-5 as a member of the Pac-12) #utes ... Utah's 89 wins in the last 10 years is tied for 9th in the nation #utes ... Kyle Whittingham's Coach's Show on ESPN700 is Wednesday at 6 pm at Harmon's City Creek & is open to the public #utes. ### LAST WEEK
Utah beat No. 25 BYU 24-21 in a wild finish that saw the Cougars get three tries to tie the game after it appeared the game clock had expired. Utah entered the fourth quarter up 24-7 after scoring 17 points in the third quarter on a 48-yard field goal by Coleman Petersen, a 47-yard fumble return by Moe Lee and a 39-yard touchdown pass between Jon Hays and Dres Anderson. But the Cougars clawed back to within three (24-21). After punting the ball away with a 1:11 in regulation, Utah appeared to win the game when BYU's pass fell incomplete and the game clock expired. But the officials put a 0:01 back on the clock and BYU attempted a 51-yard field goal, which was blocked by Star Lotulelei. As fans poured on the field, officials called a foul, saying the ball was still live. The Utes were penalized 15 yards for the fan rush and BYU lined up for a 36-yard field goal. The kick hit the left upright and Utah finally escaped with a win.
Quotes from Kyle Whittingham's Weekly Press Conference
Very pleased with the victory on Saturday. First and foremost, I want to compliment our players on how hard they played. Their intensity, passion and emotion - that was the difference in the final analysis. I am also very proud of our assistant coaches. I couldn't be prouder of a group of guys as I was on Saturday night. It was a complete team effort. It's good to get back on the winning track and give us a little momentum going into Pac-12 play this weekend. It was a very positive way to get back on track.
There was a lot of drama at the end of the game, and it's our own fault for that. We had the game well in hand heading into the fourth, and they cut into that lead and it led to the bizarre change of events at the end. All came out ok, and it was what it was, as they say.
On personnel for Arizona State:
We expect John White to be back on the field. That will be a positive for us. Brian Blechen is coming back from a suspension and Eric Rowe is hopefully coming back as well. That will help our cause.
On creating fumbles:
We do a nice job coaching it in practice. It's disappointing that we were not as opportunistic as we could have been. We dropped an interception and were 1-of-5 recovering fumbles. As long as we keep hustling and working, it will even out in the long run. The defensive staff does a good job preaching turnovers and stripping the football, and that's what we saw on Saturday night.
On Jon Hays:
A great deal of credit goes to Hays. He is a mobile quarterback and is as tough as nails. He took some shots on Saturday night, and he picks himself up every time. His mental and physical toughness are infectious for this football team. The offensive line did play better, but he makes them better with his ability to move around. His performance in the throw game in particular was one of the big reasons we were able to win the game.
On the last three games:
The positive is the effort level and attitude of the players. This is a great group to work with. They work hard in practice. As disappointing as the game was two weeks ago, there was no drop whatsoever in concentration. As a coach, that's what you want, is guys with that attitude, and these guys have that. We played very good on defense all three weeks. We had a little too much bend in the fourth quarter of this past game, but overall our defensive numbers have been very good. The offensive line is coming along and is a work in progress, but that area has showed the most improvement and hopefully they will continue to do so.
On Arizona State:
They are a good football team. They had a big win over Illinois and were right in the game against Missouri. They have a spread attack offense - 3-4 wide receiver sets, a mobile quarterback, like the spread offense we have faced so many times. Defensively they bring pressure. They have athletes all over the place, and the thing that stands out the most is their speed and athleticism across the board.
On the quarterbacks:
[Hays] threw the ball exceptionally well on Saturday. He had nearly 200 yards and no picks. He made no bad decisions. Travis Wilson is still going to have his role. We are disappointed at what we have gotten out of that package. We need to do a better job coaching that so that we can put him in a position to succeed.
On the offensive line:
Jeremiah Poutasi played every snap except the one after his helmet came off. For a true freshman to step into a game like that, he was outstanding for a kid in that situation. It was a rivalry game and his first real DI experience, we are very proud of what he did. I think we had the entire offensive line grade out at over 80 percent. We had more yards blocked up than we came away with. I thought they were improved, certainly over a week or two. I am pleased with the progress, but we have a long way to go. We are not anywhere near where we need to be.
On Brian Blechen:
He is ready. He has worked his tail off. He has taken virtually every rep for us on the scout teams. If there is a positive aspect, he has handled it the right way and done everything he could do - he was a quarterback on the scout teams, a receiver, whatever we have needed him to do he has done.