For the first time this year I am picking against the Utes and going with an Arizona State win. While I have more confidence in quarterback Jon Hays, I don't have much confidence in the run game. John White's health, plus the ineffectiveness of the other backs have me hesitant to go with the Utes today.
The Utes have to get something going in the run game if they are to beat ASU, otherwise it could be a long night. The Sun Devils are giving up 147.3 yards through the air and 148.3 on the ground.
So how can the Utes win for the first time in Tempe since 1976 against ASU? Here are the keys to the game:
1. Get DeVonte Christopher and Dres Anderson involved in the run game - Utah coach Kyle Whittingham expressed disappointment in the ineffectiveness of the run package the Utes have for freshman quarterback Travis Wilson. Given that, the Utes could turn to Christopher and Anderson to help in the run game. Christopher could be particularly effective since he has experience in the role. Also look for the Utes to keep Reggie Dunn involved too. Dunn dropped some passes against Utah State and had some more drops in practice this week so he has to do a better job of hanging onto the ball. When he does, he has proven to be a good weapon for the Utes on the edges.
2. Let Brian Blechen do what he does best - create turnovers. Last year three straight turnovers led to three straight ASU scores, turning a close game into a 35-14 ASU win. The Utes need to win the turnover battle tonight. Perhaps Blechen, playing in his first game of the year, can live up to his reputation for creating turnovers. Last year he had three interceptions, two pass breakups and three forced fumbles.
3. Improve on special teams - Blocked punts, bad snaps on field goal attempts and misses have hurt the Utes this year. The Utes can't afford such mistakes tonight. Kicker Coleman Petersen in particular needs to find his range, along with his confidence.
- Lya Wodraska
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