Tempe, AZ – On Saturday, the Sun Devils traveled to Salt Lake City and defeated the Utah Utes 20-19 in the final minutes of a low scoring game.
After a solid opening drive, things looked like smooth sailing for ASU. Then surprisingly the high octane offense hit the brakes until the fourth quarter, when it mattered most.
The Utah defense was able to apply the “Stanford vs Oregon model” against the fast paced, spread offense of ASU by being strong and physical up front. However, the Sun Devil defense also held their own keeping ASU in the game until Mike Norvell and Taylor Kelly could get things rolling. Better late than never.
Here’s how the projected DieHard Storyline for the ASU / Utah game played out in Rice-Eccles Stadium…
Who Will Own the Trenches? (Utah did, but ASU found a way to win)
“Although they are less talented than Stanford, the Utes’ “own the trenches” attitude remains the same. We’ve seen what a bruising offensive and defensive line like Stanford can do to a team like ASU who wants to play fast and get the ball to their play makers in space.” – DieHard Storyline
With a bye week prior to facing the Sun Devils, the Utes not only had a solid game plan, but the personnel on defense to carry out the task. Using their quickness, size and strength, Utah was able to control the line of scrimmage on defense and contain the ASU offensive attack. At least until the end of the game, when Taylor Kelly and company stepped up and figured out a way to win.
The Spread Option will be the Magic Formula (especially in the 4th quarter)
“The key to this game will be QB Taylor Kelly and his brilliant decision-making in the spread-option scheme that ASU runs. Over the past several weeks, it’s been Kelly’s ability to read defenses and make big plays with his feet that have kept defenses on their heels.” – DieHard Storyline
To their credit, Mike Norvell and the ASU offense never gave up on what has gotten them to this point. Even when the offense stalled, including a Kelly to Deantre Lewis fumble on a read-option hand off, the Sun Devils made some adjustments and stayed true to their game plan. It paid dividends on two scoring drives in the fourth quarter that won the game for the Sun Devils.
Davon Coleman and Gannon Conway on the rise (the team effort on defense was the deciding factor)
“The most pleasant surprises have come from Davon Coleman, who is a versatile a DL and can bring heat from every DL position, and DE Gannon Conway who has come into his own as a reliable run-stopper on the edge” – DieHard Storyline
Gannon Conway opened the first Utah series on offense with a sack to set the tone. Davon Coleman and Chris Young contributed big plays throughout the game. After getting beat two times on Utah passing plays, Robert Nelson Jr. snagged a big interception toward the end of the game. But none was bigger than Will Sutton’s rare interception to seal the deal for the Sun Devils. Bottom line, everyone contributed to make a difference, and defense wins championships.
And there is no doubt, these are the games you have to win to become a champion.
Like Coach Graham said after the victory, “It’s a great time to be a Sun Devil.”
Next up, Oregon State at Sun Devil Stadium
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