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TEMPE, Ariz. — Progress, that is exactly what you want to see if you are a fan of the Utes. When you take a serious shock to your system, like losing your starting quarterback, you just want to see team react positively and move forward.
- Utah (2-1, 0-0 Pac-12) at 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
Two members of the Utes showed those positive steps last week against BYU. New starting quarterback Jon Hays showed he may be up to the task of leading this Ute team, and new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson showed the ability to adjust and react after a rough performance against USU. Both will have to show continued improvement this week against Arizona State to come out of the desert with a win.
That and these keys are what Utah will need to do to win this week.
1. Wideouts need to make plays
Utah has playmakers on the outside. The names of DeVonte Christopher, Dres Anderson, and Kenneth Scott surround Jon Hays. In the last week and a half Jon Hays has shown he is not scared to throw the ball down field, and Coach Johnson has shown that he is not scared to call up the deep ball. Dres and Scott have shown they can make the play down field from time-to-time this season, but they need to become more consistent. Anderson has had multiple deep passes hit off his fingertips. The biggest culprit of missing the big play so far has been DeVonte Christopher. He has had opportunities to make the play, but it seems that he is more concerned about drawing a flag then coming down with the ball. If these guys make the plays, the running game will open up. 2. Special teams need to show up
It's kind of like watching a circus when it comes to the Utah special teams. There are a lot of ‘ahhhhs' and plenty of ‘ewwwwwws.' Last week Utah's special teams were responsible for giving up easy points to BYU and keeping them in the game in the fourth quarter, as well as leaving some points on the field for themselves with a blocked field goal. The last two weeks special teams have been the major achilles heel of this team. If they can just get the basics down, like blocking on a punt, that will help Utah's stout defense that much more. 3. Secondary needs to come to play
Utah hasn't played a team that has wanted to test them down the field yet. That time has to come eventually, and ASU may be the team to do it. The defensive line will do their job, it's almost a given. Moe Lee, Ryan Lacy, Reggie Topps, and newly reinstated Brian Blechen will be tested from time-to-time with this higher paced offense. ASU's receivers are big and fast, but they lost most of their starting wide receiving core last season. Utah's secondary needs to be on their toes, because they may be tested in Tempe. 4. GET THOSE TURNOVERS
Utah has forced 10 fumbles the last couple of weeks. They have recovered three. When the ball is on the ground, they need to jump on those opportunities. Similar situation to when the ball is able to be picked off, they need to be caught. With the youth of this ASU team and all the inexperience, combined with Utah's ball hawking defense, those opportunities, when they arise, need to be taken advantage of. This is a great opportunity for Utah to get off to a great start in the conference. Utah's defense will do what they need to do for the team to stay in the game, the onus will fall on special teams to create field position and the offense to put some points on the board. One thing is for sure, now the real season begins.