Not a lot of positives to take away from that game — inept on offense, soft against the run defensively, just a lot of things. —Utah coach Kyle Whittingham
SALT LAKE CITY — It was enough, more than enough, to make a grown man cry — especially for anyone in red Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley had tears in his eyes after the Utes dropped a 30-10 decision to Arizona State.
“Taking no credit from the ASU defense but we, we, that’s it,” Huntley said. “We did that.”
Utah dropped to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in Pac-12 play. The Utes head to Oregon next week on a three-game skid.
Huntley had to compose himself throughout the postgame press conference. He added that the whole team was to blame — missing assignments and not making plays.
“And that’s what happens,” Huntley said.
Arizona State (4-3, 3-1) came out hot. The Sun Devils scored on their first three possessions as kicker Brandon Ruiz connected on field goals from 47, 40 and 30 yards out.
Leading 9-0 after one quarter, Arizona State added a 1-yard touchdown run by Demario Richard late in the second. Ruiz followed with the PAT to make it 16-0 after two quarters.
It marked the first time this season that Utah had been shut out in any half. The Utes had just 93 yards of total offense and seven first downs at the break.
Matt Gay put the Utes on the board with a 53-yard field goal early in the second half. Arizona State responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by Manny Wilkins in the third quarter and a 20-yard interception return by Jay Wilson midway through the fourth.
Utah’s lone trip across the goal line followed. Devonta’e Henry-Cole capped a 13-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown plunge with 2:41 left to play.
However, it proved to be a matter of far too little, far too late.
“We didn’t come out to play. That’s all it was,” Huntley said. “We just didn’t come out to play, and it showed.”
Huntley completed just 19 of 35 passes for 155 yards in his return as Utah’s starter. He was intercepted four times.
Utah’s ground game didn’t fare much better. Zack Moss led the Utes with 49 yards rushing.
Arizona State’s defense finished with six tackles for loss, four takeaways, two sacks and a pair of pass breakups.
“I thought we had a great game plan. The team we beat today is a really good football team,” said Arizona State coach Todd Graham. “We came in here on the road and I’m just proud of all three phases. Really proud of our football team.”
The Sun Devils have turned up the heat defensively. Before last week’s 13-7 win over fifth-ranked Washington, they had given up 30 or more points in 11 consecutive games. Also noteworthy is they entered that game 119th in the nation in total defense, giving up 484.2 yards per game.
Utah finished with 265 yards and lost the time of possession battle by a 36:19-23:41 margin. Arizona State’s offense netted 345 yards and converted on 8 of 16 third-down situations.
“Not a lot of positives to take away from that game — inept on offense, soft against the run defensively, just a lot of things,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. “A lot of things that we’ve got to figure out. We’ve got to figure out right now.”
The offense, he later noted, lacks rhythm and an identity.
Whittingham said he had a sneaking suspicion that emotional losses to Stanford (23-20) and USC (28-27) the previous weeks had taken a toll.
“My fault for not having the team ready and being able to put that behind us,” he continued. “But we’ve still got a lot of football left. We’ve got five games left. We’ve got to figure some things out. It’ll be a challenge for us.”
Utah returns to action Saturday at Oregon (4-4, 1-4).