SALT LAKE CITY — The Utes will try to rebound after a frustrating home loss to Washington last week as they welcome the Arizona State Sun Devils into Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday at 1:30 p.m. This will be no small task, considering that the Sun Devils are probably the best team in the Pac-12 South Division.
The feat will be made even more difficult by the fact that the Utes will be without their starting quarterback, Jordan Wynn, and that’s where we’ll start as we look forward to five storylines we can expect to see on Saturday.
1. Hays the man. Jordan Wynn was finally starting to look like his old self in the first half of the Washington game when he injured his non-throwing shoulder. While he sits out at least two to three weeks, backup quarterback Jon Hays will step in and try and lead the Utes back into contention in the Pac-12 South. Hays put up good numbers last week (10-for-16 for 156 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 turnovers), but he clearly looked uncomfortable in the pocket. That is to be expected in his first amount of consistent time under center. That said, ASU’s defense is much faster and more talented than Washington’s was.
2. An adjusted game plan. Norm Chow will have his work cut out for him trying to move the ball with Hays. We knew that if Wynn went down, the Utes were in trouble, but this is why Kyle Whittingham brought Chow in. He will have to get creative, probably by using DeVonte Christopher out of the “Wildcat” formation, letting Hays run the ball and utilizing the short passing game. Chow’s expertise will truly be tested this week.
3. Lots of airtime for Osweiler. Brock Osweiler, the tallest quarterback in college football, is one of the most poised pocket passers in the country. Osweiler is smart and sees the field very well. With a young secondary, the Utes will be tested yet again. This time, however, it may be the most difficult test to date. The Sun Devils know Utah’s defensive strength is in its front seven. They haven’t tried to run much all year, and they won’t start Saturday.
4. X-Pfactor. Senior Aaron Pflugrad will be running around the Rice-Eccles Stadium turf on Saturday afternoon reminding Ute fans of former Utah receiver Travis LaTendresse. Pflugrad throws his undersized body into harm’s way over the middle more often than Wayne Chrebet. With the young secondary tied up with ASU wide receiver Jamal Miles — quite possibly the most talented athlete on the field — look for Pflugrad to be Osweiler’s favorite target Saturday.
5. Burfict storm. Vontaze Burfict is one of the most feared players in college football. The Ray Lewis-like linebacker leads the ASU defense and borders on dangerous and dirty. With an inexperienced quarterback lining up on the other side of the ball, look for the already blitz-happy Burfict to try and create havoc in the Ute backfield.
Trevor Amicone is the sports director at 88.1 Weber FM "Ogden's Radio Station" and host of the sports talk radio show, "Fully Loaded Sports with Trevor Amicone". Find more of his blogs at TrevorsTopTens.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TrevorAmicone