Sun Devils handle Utes with ease

Image unavailable osqizb
Minutes after the scoreboard hit triple zeroes Saturday, a high-pitched alarm echoed through the MidFirst Bank Stadium Club at Sun Devil Stadium, forcing a mass evacuation down the stairs and onto the field.
The fumes from Arizona State's dominating performance had apparently lifted as the dust mercifully settled in the third home blowout in as many games this season.
Behind a fiery offense attack and an extinguishing defensive outing, the Sun Devils (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) scorched the visiting Utes, 37-7, in front of a season-high 58,107 crowd.
"I didn't do anything, I just watched," ASU coach Todd Graham said. "I'm really proud of our players. They came out ready to play. They [Utah] have a really good football team, but we really dominated them. They came after it all the way around."
With the comfortable victory, the Sun Devils have now beaten their opponents at home this year by a combined total of 145-27.
The lopsided outcome showed most prominently on the offensive front for ASU. Coming in to Saturday's contest, the Utes (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) were second in the conference in yards per game allowed, giving up an average of just 268 yards through their first three weeks of the season.
That changed quickly when the Sun Devils got going, however.
The offense amassed 512 total yards, seemingly scoring at will until the game's outcome became securely in hand.
"Didn't see that coming," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "The speed yes, we knew they were fast, but I didn't see the lopsidedness of the whole affair coming. We knew we were up against a very good football team but we were never really in the game."
Coming off a three turnover meltdown a week ago in Missouri, ASU sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly bounced back in a big way Saturday. Throwing for a career-high 326 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for another 19 yards, the only thing that stopped Kelly was Graham opting to give freshman Michael Eubank more snaps in the second half with the big lead.
"We got in a good rhythm, we were up really quick, so we just came after them," Kelly said. "We had a great game plan coming in and we had a great week of practice. We just came out strong."
While Kelly made obvious strides to counteract his disappointing effort in the Sun Devils' loss last week, the biggest improvement came from the ASU receivers.
The unit that dropped at minimum a few passes against Missouri was sure handed Saturday versus the Utes. Nine Sun Devils made catches with ASU senior wide out Rashad Ross leading the bunch with five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.
"I'll say we took it as a challenge," Ross said of the receivers' mindset after last week. "Our focus really wasn't there and this week we came in as a group. We were focused more and practiced harder. So I'll say that would make the difference of why we played better this week than last week as a receiver unit."
On the ground, ASU freshman D.J. Foster led the Sun Devils with 70 yards while senior Cameron Marshall scored two touchdowns, vaulting into third place on the school's all-time list for career scores.
Defensively, ASU played its fourth consecutive quality game. While the offense struggled against Missouri last week, the Sun Devil defense kept the team in the game and carried over its play into Saturday, shutting down the Utes almost all night.
ASU sacked Utah senior quarterback Jon Hays three times as he appeared under pressure throughout the game and threw for just 117 yards. Arguably its strongest part of the team, the Utes' rushing game was held to 92 net yards with star running back John White only tallying 18 yards.
"We watched film, we studied and everybody did their assignments," said ASU senior linebacker Brandon Magee, who collected 10 tackles Saturday. "I'm surprised we gave up that touchdown, but that happens when you play good teams. We felt like we should shut them out and that's what happened."
As the team combined for 10 tackles for loss, ASU junior defensive end Will Sutton stood out again, recording half a sack and consistently causing disruption in the backfield.
"The best D-Lineman in the country in my opinion," Graham said. "A guy that has really started to buy in to the things we're talking about. He is so talented and explosive. I have not coached a guy better than him physically."
Junior college transfer linebacker Chris Young also put in a big night with two and a half tackles for loss.
"He means a whole lot," Magee said. "He's always on the field making plays. He's a ball hog. He means a lot to this team. If he keeps doing what he's doing, we're going to be just fine."
Following in Kelly's footsteps to take better care of the ball, the Sun Devils had zero turnovers Saturday, turning in a clean sheet for the first time this season prompting Graham to give all the offense players t-shirts with the word "security" written across them.
"We had 100 percent ball security," Graham said. "When we have that, we win every game. I'm excited about that."
Unlike the rest of the night, the Utes jumped out of the gates fast to start the game, moving into ASU territory in their first possession on a third down pass for 36 yards down the sideline.
But after three plays that went nowhere, Utah went for it on fourth down on the fringe of field goal range only to see Will Sutton and Young sack senior quarterback Jon Hays in the backfield to end the drive.
"It started out really well," Sutton said. "I'm starting to become known out there. I go out there and work hard every day. I love playing on the outside. It's really fun."
The Sun Devils didn't waste any time taking advantage of the momentum change, capitalizing on the turnover on downs by driving 69 yards in four plays to score Saturday's first points. Kelly rolled out of the pocket on a run-pass option and hit Ross, who made his way into the endzone with the help of a highlight reel stiff arm near the goal line.
"Oh, it mean a lot, because that's all I was focusing on, catching the ball," Ross said. "That's what coach was telling us to do. You have to catch the ball, see the ball, look it in."
Less than four minutes later, ASU struck again, this time on a Marshall one yard run to take a 14-0 lead barely halfway through the first quarter. The rush came on a handoff from Eubank who took the snap under center, a contrast from last week against Missouri when the freshman quarterback lined up in the shotgun formation late in the game near the endzone and came up empty.
After the Sun Devil defense forced its second straight Utah three and out, ASU seamlessly marched down the field for its third touchdown with junior running back Marion Grice finding the endzone on a 10 yard screen pass from Kelly.
"We came out to a great start," Kelly said. "The defense did a great job stopping them and then once we got the ball, we just decided to come out strong."
The Utes finally got on the board early in the second quarter when Hays connected with junior running back Karl Williams for a two yard score but ASU responded on its next drive on sophomore kicker Alex Garoutte's second field goal of the season, a 22 yard kick.
The Sun Devils capped off their explosive first half six minutes later when Marshall recorded his second touchdown of the night, this one coming on a 13 yard pass from Kelly to extend the lead to 31-7 at the break.
In total, ASU outgained Utah 347 to 152 over the first two quarters, with Kelly amassing 259 yards through the air, more than any entire game amount in the first three games of the season.
"We got in a good rhythm, we were up really quick, so we just came after them," Kelly said. "We had a great game plan coming in and we had a great week of practice. We just came out strong."
Securely ahead in the second half, the Sun Devils went into cruise control with Garoutte scoring the only points in the third and fourth quarters with two field goals.
"I don't think it could've been any better," Graham said. "I'm proud of the performance all the way around."