SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – There wasn’t much that didn’t go right for the Utes Saturday against Arizona State. Utah put up 513 yards of total offense, while holding Arizona State to just 83 yards in the Utes largest blowout over a Pac-12 team, 55-3.
“I thought we came out and played obviously exceptionally well,” said head coach Kyle Whittingham on Monday. “I thought the coordinators had outstanding plans on both sides of the ball, and the players did a great job of executing it.”
Coming off a 35-6 loss to Oregon the week before, Whittingham was pleased with how the team responded, especially on the offensive end.
“It was our best production of the year,” he said. “Bryson Barnes played his best game as a Ute, period, not just this year.”
Wide receiver DeVaughn Vele finally scored his first two touchdowns of the season, catching seven passes for 56 yards. After a slow start to the season, Vele has now put together back to back solid games.
“He’s one of the better receivers in the Pac-12 in my opinion,” Whittingham said. “We’ve got to make a conscious effort to continue to keep him involved, because we’re a better offense when he’s doing his thing.”
The Utes hope to have Ja’Quinden Jackson in the backfield against Washington, but he’s dealing with an ankle injury that has bothered him all season.
“He has battled it all season long,” Whittingham said about Jackson, who rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown against Arizona State. “He just keeps coming back. During the week, he gets it as good as he can get it, and on gameday he just lets it rip until he can’t go anymore. He’s extremely tough.”
Utah is still alive for making it to its third straight Pac-12 championship game, but they have to beat #5 Washington this week, something no team has been able to do this year.
“We’ve got a big challenge this week on the road against the number five team in the country,” Whittingham said about the 9-0 Huskies. “We’ve got to be at our best. We can’t just play good, we’ve got to play great, and that’s what it’s going to take.”
How do you slow down Washington quarterback Michael Penix, who leads the entire nation in passing yards with 3,201 to go along with 26 touchdowns?
“Pass defense starts at the line of scrimmage,” Whittingham said. “It’s not just on the secondary. The defensive front has to get pressure, and not let the quarterback get comfortable. That being said, this is probably the best offensive line we’ve faced. Their focus is throwing the ball, and they do it better than anybody in the country.”
Utah will try to pull the upset in Seattle this Saturday at 1:30 p.m.