TEMPE, Ariz. — Losing a game and starting quarterback Tyler Huntley made for a long afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium. Utah’s 38-20 setback to Arizona State was painful on many levels.
Things simply didn’t go as the Utes had hoped, not even close. Their four-game win streak was snapped and they fell out of the Pac-12 South driver’s seat.
“We didn’t play particularly well in any phase,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, who noted that ASU’s offensive line was probably the catalyst in the outcome.
Because of the outcome, the Utes (6-4, 4-3) surrendered control of the division race to the Sun Devils (5-4, 3-3). ASU now holds tiebreakers over both Utah and USC (5-4, 4-3).
While the pain of that loss remains to be seen, losing Huntley hurts immediately. The junior is expected to miss the remainder of the season with what is reportedly a broken left collarbone. Backup Jason Shelley stepped in for Huntley after the injury in the third quarter and completed just 4 of 11 passes for 59 yards. He was intercepted once. The redshirt freshman is slated to make his first start Saturday when the Utes face Oregon at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“I have a lot of confidence in Jason,” said Whittingham, who noted that Shelley has complete command of the offense, is intelligent, and was terrific in high school — the last time he played extensively — and is a mobile, dual-threat quarterback.
“So the offense doesn’t really change much,” Whittingham said. “We’ve just got to give him the reps. He’ll take all the reps with the ones, obviously, next week and go from there.”
Speaking of which, Utah is a crossroads of sorts with two Pac-12 games left to play. The Utes head to Colorado next week.
“We know who we can be,” Whittingham said. “We’ve got to get back to that team.”
Senior linebacker Chase Hansen, a team captain, is confident the team can get back to winning games again.
"We've just got to come together. We can't let this affect team morale, or momentum, or confidence,” he said. “We’ve got to be able to understand we’re still a good football team, a really good football team and we've got to be able to play like it — bounce back.
“So I think we've just got to come together and fix mistakes that we made and move forward,” Hansen continued.
After three quarters, Utah trailed Arizona State just 21-20.
However, it proved to be short-lived. Just 13 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils began to pull away. A 61-yard touchdown pass from Manny Wilkins to N’Keal Harry opened what proved to be a rout by game’s end.
ASU added a 21-yard field goal by Brandon Ruiz and a 44-yard TD run by Eno Benjamin over the final 10:27 to seal the deal.
Utah, meanwhile, struggled down the stretch. Over their final seven possessions, the Utes punted four times, threw two interceptions and were limited to a 31-yard field goal by Matt Gay. A muffed punt return in the fourth quarter added to the woes.
“They just started making plays and we weren’t making enough plays to be honest,” Shelley said.
Running back Zack Moss noted that the offense would repeatedly catch rhythm and then lose it. They failed to convert on third downs and ASU did. The Utes were 5 of 12 on third downs. The Sun Devils were 7 of 14.
As for the big picture, Moss put Utah’s situation in perspective.
“It’s football. You win or you lose,” he said. “Just like life, you get up the next day and keep going.”23 comments on this story
EXTRA POINTS: Four Utes — Moss (128), Huntley (42), Armand Shyne (13), Britain Covey (4) — rushed for positive yardage. … Samson Nacua had four of Utah’s 11 receptions. Solomon Enis and Covey each had two catches, while Siaosi Mariner, Demari Simpkins and Brant Kuithe had one apiece. … Covey had a 36-yard punt return and a 33-yard kickoff return. … Mitch Wishnowsky had a season-long 60-yard punt. … Gay made two field goals, upping his career total to 44. … Corrion Ballard had a career-high 12 tackles. Cody Barton matched it, recording double-digit stops for the third time in nine games. … Jaylon Johnson picked off a pass and now has a team-high three interceptions. … Utah’s defense made seven tackles for loss. … ASU recorded three sacks.
Oregon (6-3, 3-3) at Utah (6-3, 4-3)
- Rice-Eccles Stadium
- Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
- TV: Pac-12 Networks
- Radio: ESPN 700AM