Cleanup on Aisle 7: ASU Offense Needs Redemption After Folding in Salt Lake
By Peter Bouloukos,
October 23, 2019 12:59 PM

If I were to tell you Utah, a team known to take care of the ball, would turn it over 4 times against ASU, would you think Rob Likens offense would only produce 3 points?  

If I were to tell you Utah’s star running back Zach Moss would be knocked out of the game in the first half, and Senior Quarterback Tyler Huntley would have to leave the field for a period of time, would you think Arizona State would be held scoreless in the first half while surrendering 14 points?  

The rain just kept falling at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday Night, and the Sun Devils could not move the ball. Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham said, “I can’t remember a better defensive effort, certainly not as of late, it’s hard to win when you turn the ball over four times, but we found a way and that’s just another credit to our defense.”

When it mattered most, the Sun Devils would make emotional mistakes and 12 penalties for 122 yards was the difference-maker in Salt Lake City this time around. The 21-3 win over our the then No. 17 Sun Devils was hard to watch.

Danny Gonzalez’s defense was missing on arm-tackles and bouncing off Utes with poor head-down technique, but when it came to Zach Moss they were equal to the challenge for much of the game. 

In the first half, the Sun Devil Defense had 6-penalties for 62 yards. “The penalties killed us and just got us out of whack a little bit,” said Senior Cornerback Kobe Williams.  

Jayden Daniels carried the ball 16 times for just 8 total yards. To Daniels credit, he was only sacked 3 times, and Arizona State was only stopped behind the line of scrimmage 6 times against a dominant Utah D. Jayden had one interception in the “frenzied” offense, but that was a last-second hail-mary at the end of the first half. 

On this front, Danny Gonzalez’s unit had 2 sacks and 9 tackles for a loss, something we were keying on in our pregame analysis. This defense is the real deal, but they can’t be on the field for 35 minutes at 4,637 feet above sea level.

Likens should apologize to Gonazales and to Eno Benjamin who was statistically on-pace to eclipse last seasons 27 carries for 175 yards and two touchdowns against the Utes. 15 Total touches for Benjamin was a travesty any way you look at this game, and I have now watched it three times. 


Sun Devil #90 Jermanyne Lole


Ultimately, Arizona State’s defense kept the game within reach until 8:38 remaining when Sun Devil Defensive Back Jack Jones fumbled a 40-yard punt with Brandon Aiyuk standing less than ten yards away. 

The ASU defense was visibly demoralized when Zach Moss broke through the line for a 32-yard touchdown run with 5:24 left.  Outside of that one touch, Moss rushed 24 times for only 67 yards.

Eno Benjamin again looked like a man on a mission, but he only handled the ball 15 times for 104 yards (6.93 per) with a long of 32.  Even without that long run, Eno was averaging 5.14 yards per touch.

Utah was one of just three teams in the country without an interception, but Arizona State’s Chase Lucas picked off Tyler Huntley’s pass returning it 21-yards to the Utah 28 in the third quarter.  

Later, Tyler Johnson knocked the ball out of Tyler Huntley’s hands and Jermanyne Lole recovered it at the Utah 18.   

All Arizona State had to do was stop Tyler Huntley and Zach Moss, and for the most part, outside of two-plays, they contained the two standout Seniors. The “bend don’t break” defense did its job. 

As critical as I can be from time to time, this one was not on our true Freshman quarterback. You had better believe Jayden Daniels will rebound fast for a game at the Rose Bowl.

  • 👉 Utah defense has only given up one TD in the last 11 quarters and that was a last-minute score in the Utes’ 52-7 win over Oregon State.
  • 👉 The Sun Devils offense never crossed midfield in the first half and had just 42 total yards and two first downs.
  • 👉 Utah held Arizona State to just 3 points breaking a 125-game streak of scoring at least 10 points, leaving them in a tie with 2008-18 Louisiana Tech for the longest such streak in major college football history. With that gone, Alabama now carries the longest active streak at 111 games.
  • 👉 Eno Benjamin’s streak of 8 consecutive games scoring a touchdown is done. 
  • 👉 ASU has now held opponents to less than 30 points in 14 of 20 games since Danny Gonzalez took over as Defensive Coordinator. 
  • 👉 The 25 total passing yards for the ASU offense were the fewest since having 33 against Oregon in 2006.
  • 👉 The Sun Devil defense was responsible for a season-high four takeaways. Aashari Crosswell forced two fumbles, and Tyler Johnson another while Chase Lucas snagged his first interception of the season. Crosswell also led the team with nine tackles, a pass breakup and one tackle for a loss.
  • 👉 ASU converted those turnovers to just three total points.
  • 👉 EB3 recorded his 13th career 100-yard rushing performance with 104 yards on 15 carries. It was the 13th 100-yard game of Benjamin’s career, moving him into a tie for 5th-most in program History with Demario Richard (2014-17).
  • 👉 104 of ASU’s 136 scrimmage yards came on the 15 EB3 carries. The rest of the team combined had just 32 yards from scrimmage.




“I was embarrassed with our football team when it came to the fouls,” Edwards said. “We lost our composure and I don’t believe in doing that kind of stuff. It just mars the football game. I’ve never been involved in a game where a team got 12 fouls. For some reason, we just lost our composure.”



The Sun Devils return to action Saturday when they travel to Pasadena, California to face UCLA. Kickoff at the Rose Bowl is scheduled for 4:30 pm MST. ASU -4  Over/Under 54.5


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