Utah Utes football notebook: ASU's first quarter key to win over Utes
Tom Smart, Deseret News
TEMPE, Ariz. — It began with a field goal in the third quarter of last year's 35-14 loss to Arizona State at Rice-Eccles Stadium and concluded with a touchdown pass in the first quarter of Saturday's game.
Over that stretch, the Utah Utes gave up 46 straight points to the Sun Devils — more than enough to a make a difference in both outings.
The latest blitz was a 21-point burst over the opening 11:07 at Sun Devil Stadium. A pair of touchdown passes from Taylor Kelly — a 38-yarder to Rashad Ross and a 10-yard strike to Marion Grice — plus a 1-yard TD run by Cameron Marshall lifted ASU to a 37-7 win over Utah in the Pac-12 opener for both schools.
The Sun Devils have now defeated the Utes nine consecutive times dating back to 1977.
FIESTA RETURN: Utah's first game at Sun Devil Stadium since the 2005 Fiesta Bowl was a homecoming, of sorts, for several members of the Ute staff — including assistant Steve Fifita, who was the defensive MVP of the historic 35-7 win over Pittsburgh.
"Somebody just reminded me of that. I didn't even think about it," Fifita said prior to Saturday's return to Tempe. "A game is a game and a stadium is a stadium to me. I'm just kind of weird like that."
Besides, Fifita noted, a lot of things have changed since the Fiesta Bowl trip that he said now seems like it was so long ago.
The Utes didn't use the same locker room this time and Fifita explained that games are just a lot different when you're not a player.
WORKS-IN-PROGRESS: While the Utah athletic department is upgrading and adding facilities, it isn't alone. Virtually every school in the Pac-12 is either planning or building.
ASU has plans to renovate its football stadium with a canopy designed to drop temperatures, especially during day football games. UCLA's Pauley Pavilion remake is finishing up, while Oregon State and Colorado are adding basketball practice facilities.
Washington is re-doing its football stadium and Washington State has added new club lounge, suites and press box areas.
Utah is building a football center and will soon add a basketball practice facility.
"We feel we have nice plans ahead," said Utah athletic director Chris Hill.
Hill said the Pac-12 television deal that was worked out last year spurred all the schools to move ahead with projects.
"They are projects we never would have been able to do before," he said. "So we can get going now."
Hill added that private funding remains a big part of such additions.
EXTRA POINTS: To combat the hot weather (99 degrees at kickoff), Utah brought six "Big Fogg" mist machines on the trip and placed them along the sideline . . . The Utes debuted their new black helmets, sporting white logos . . . Scouts from the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans attended the game, as did a scout from the CFL's Calgary Stampeders . . . ASU's "Hall of Fame Weekend" included the inductions of former Sun Devils head coach Darryl Rogers (1980-84) and defensive assistant Larry Kentera (1966-78).
Twitter: DirkFacer, therockmonster
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