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TEMPE, Ariz. — Coming off a bizarre victory against rival BYU, the University of Utah traveled to Tempe, Ariz. to take on Arizona State in their first Pac-12 game of the season. The Utes struggled, to say the least, as the Sun Devils went on to a commanding 37-7 victory.
Coming into this season, Utah's defense was expected to be lights out, with Star Lotulelei leading the pack. And while the defense may be great, it wasn't highlighted in Saturday's game against ASU. If the Sun Devils wanted to run the ball, they got it. If they wanted to pass the ball, they got it. Utah's defense appeared sluggish and outmatched on nearly every play.
In the first half, Utah's defense allowed 347 total yards on offense, with ASU's quarterback Taylor Kelly going 13-of-17 for 259 yards. On every Arizona State drive, save the missed field goal before the half, the Sun Devils scored. Even Lotulelei had a quiet night, getting beat one-on-one and having little impact.
As bad as Utah's defense was, their offensive line was worse. Utah knew they would struggle with the lack of depth on the offensive line this season, but things are not looking good for the Utes. The offensive line was easily getting beat, leaving Hays to take brutal hits. Additionally, the run game for Utah was stifled as a result of poor play from the offensive line.
While Utah fans were excited to have running back John White back after missing last week's game against BYU, it's clear he's not 100 percent. Hs explosiveness was nonexistent and looked slow on the run. The two fumbles by White didn't help the Utes poor offensive performance either. Although Utah is eager to get their starting running back in the game, there isn't much of a benefit if he isn't healthy.
There was one positive about the game Saturday night: Kelvin York had a breakout game. While it wasn't perfect and was short lived, it was a complete improvement from last week's game against BYU. York carried the Utes offense in the first half, leading to the Utes' only touchdown of the game. York had 12 carries for a total of 82 yards. Additionally, York was hitting the holes White was able to get to. It's still early to say he'll have the same success throughout the remainder of the season, but it's a step in the right direction.
Travis Wilson is the future of the Utah program; Jordan Wynn has retired from the game, and Jon Hays is a senior. Called on to take control of the game in the fourth quarter, Wilson struggled to get anything off. Much of that was because the offensive line was getting beat, but progress certainly needs to be made. However, it's not completely fair to criticize Wilson who was put in difficult situation facing a 37-7 deficit.