Salt Lake City (AP) Arizona is quietly emerging as Pac-12’s top defensive team.
18th place Sun Devils (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) played in a Saturday match in Utah, leading the league in several major defensive categories.
It ranks first in scoring defense (16.2 points per game), total defense (299.0 yards per game), sack (21) and tackle (43).
With a 28-10 victory over Stanford, Arizona State University allowed a rush of just 13 yards. This is the lowest number for Sun Devil’s Defense since 2018.
With its unrivaled ability to put pressure on quarterbacks and curb opposition crimes, Arizona seems ready to run for the title of the conference. Sun Devil’s coach Harm Edwards believes that if the players continue to do the right thing, they can do great things.
“I’m traveling with them,” Edwards said. “I can give them a roadmap. They had to drive a car.”
In Utah, Sun Devils faces a strong growing team after defeating USC 42-26 last week.
Ute (3-2, 2-0) has won the first true road win against Trojan horses since 1916, behind a reactivated transit attack. Cameron Rising marked his first career 300 yards game by throwing 306 yards and three touchdowns in a 22-of-28 pass.
It was also the first 300-yard pass game to play against Pac-12 opponents in Utah since recording 311 in Colorado in 2014.
Ute has become more dynamic in the attack since Rising replaced Charlie Brewer in a quarterback after a 1-2 start. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he was exactly the type of leader Utah wanted in that position.
“He’s an alpha dog,” said Whittingham. “He is a leader in every sense. He commands the room and is the leader of the attack.”
Arizona and Utah are the only Pac-12 teams that remain undefeated in the league. The Sun Devil’s matched the best start under Edwards and is trying to improve to 4-0 in the league for the first time since 2007. Ute aims to move to 3-0 on the Pac-12 for the first time since 2015.
In memory of Rowe
Utah has changed its practice schedule this week to allow the entire team to fly to Mesquite, Texas on Monday to attend Aaron Lowe’s funeral. Several teammates, Whittingham, and Cornerback Director Sharievshire spoke at a service attended by more than 800 people. Rowe was shot dead at a house party in Salt Lake City on September 25th.
“It was nice to see them stand up and express themselves,” Whittingham said. “It’s not easy. It’s emotionally hard. I thought they all handled it well and did a good job.”
Arizona piled up 255 yards on the ground and rushed down to Stanford three times. The Sun Devil’s team has surpassed 200 rush yards for the sixth time in nine games dating back to the beginning of the 2020 season, rushing at least 150 yards in ten consecutive games.
Rachaad White has consistently contributed to Backfield, Arizona, ranking fourth on the Pac-12 with a total of 427 yards of rushyards.
“I think what we can do is not give up,” Edwards said. “We just try to keep running, and in the end, if you do, it will pay dividends for you.”
Tabion Thomas could have played a bigger role in Utah’s backfield after rushing to a career-high 113 yards and a touchdown to USC. Thomas averaged 7.1 yards per carry, giving Ute a running attack an occasional missing spark early in the season.
For Thomas, who played his second 100-yard game, his performance against USC represents a comeback after being effectively benched early in the season. The sophomore back fell out of rotation after having a hard time grasping the ball. Thomas had a total of two carries to San Diego and Washington.
Utah and Arizona State University will bring five consecutive victories against Pac-12’s opponents on Saturday. Each team was dominant in those victories. Sun Devils won five contests with an average of 27 points per game. Utes has averaged 13.4 points ahead of their last five league opponents.
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