This was supposed to be a bounce-back game for the University of Utah football team. Tyler Huntley and Darren Carrington II were supposed to rectify the past two losses. The Utes were supposed to win by 10 points.
None of that happened.
Instead, Utah dropped its third straight game to Arizona State University 30-10 at home. Huntley’s return to the starting lineup was mired by four interceptions, one of which was a pick-6 at the 7:31 mark in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t come out to play, that’s all it was,” Huntley said.
He ended up throwing for a total of 155 yards.
Initially, the Utah defense looked tight. It held ASU to a field goal on its opening drive, and Huntley was set to take the field.
His first pass was a completion to Carrington, almost as if the duo had not missed a beat. Things then took a turn when Huntley tried to connect with Zack Moss, but the ball bounced out of his hands right into the hands of a Sun Devil for an interception. The Utah defense then held the Sun Devils to another field goal.
ASU made it all the way to the 12-yard line on the following drive, but it was held to another field goal. Three drives, three field goals — things were seemingly pointing in Utah’s direction as ASU didn’t get any more points on the scoreboard for the rest of the first quarter.
Then, Huntley didn’t look to have it as together as he did on the first throw of the game. Throughout the rest of the first half — and the rest of the game for that matter — he missed open receivers, granted sometimes they were covered, but some throws were just a little too high or a bit too long.
Head coach Kyle Whittingham doesn’t think the Utes know who they are when they have the ball.
“There’s not a lot of flow to the offense,” Whittingham said. “We need to get into a rhythm and we can’t seem to get into a rhythm. … Right now, we have no identity on offense.”
As ASU made its way into the red zone, aided by a pair of rushes for 25 and 35 yards, Demario Richard eventually ran for a 1-yard touchdown, giving the Sun Devils a 16-0 lead with 40 seconds left. Then to top it off, Huntley threw his second pick to close out the half.
The Utes found some success opening up the third quarter as Moss, who finished the game with 49 rushing yards, found a few gaps to advance the ball. Matt Gay knocked down a 53-yard field goal, Utah’s first points of the game, to make the score 16-3.
On ASU’s first drive of the second half though, things continued to go awry for Utah. Both Donovan Thompson and Corrion Ballard were ejected from the game for targeting. Ballard’s penalty arguably stung more as it happened on a what would have been third down stop in the red zone. ASU finished off that drive with another 1-yard rushing touchdown to go up 23-3.
As Utah was starting to find its groove after an empathic sack from Cody Barton to liven up the sideline, Huntley threw his third interception. Then in similar fashion to Huntley’s first pick, ASU’s Manny Wilkins threw a pick that bounced off the hands of his intended receiver’s into Kavika Luafatasaga’s hands. That pick didn’t do much to help Utah’s case as its offense went for a quick three-and-out.
As if Utah couldn’t fall behind anymore, Huntley threw his fourth pick of the game midway through the fourth quarter, and Jay Wilson returned it for a 20-yard touchdown, giving ASU a 30-3 lead.
Utah eventually put a touchdown on the board to reach double digits, but it was a little too late as it came at the 2:31 mark of the fourth quarter.
Luafatasaga was disappointed in the way Utah performed, even if he did add an interception to his stat line.
“We didn’t do our assignments to the best of our abilities,” Luafatasaga said.
The Utes have a lot to figure out before next week’s game at Oregon, according to Whittingham. And when the Utes last dropped three games in a row back in 2013, it didn’t end at three games — it spilled over into a five-game losing streak.