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Utah football: Three keys to a Utah victory in the desert

Utah quarterback Troy Williams (3) celebrates his touchdown with offensive lineman Garett Bolles (72) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2016. Utah battled back from a first-half deficit to defeat
Utah quarterback Troy Williams (3) celebrates his touchdown with offensive lineman Garett Bolles (72) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2016. Utah battled back from a first-half deficit to defeat Arizona 36-23.
Nick Wagner, Nick Wagner

The Utah Utes are headed to Arizona to take on the Sun Devils on Thursday. The Utes are currently in a position in which they control their own destiny, but they need to focus on the task this week.


1. Defending the blitz


The Sun Devils' defense is known for how much they blitz. With the task at hand this week, it’s important that the Utes' entire offense works together to stop it.

“Our offensive line has done a nice job picking up blitzes”, said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. “This will be our biggest test of the season this week in that regard.”

With the Arizona blitz in full effect, running backs Joe Williams and Zach Moss will need to help block the blitzes and complete their assignments.

Troy Williams has done a good job picking up the blitz and getting reads, according to Whittingham.


2. Taking advantage of the passing game


Utah’s passing game seems to be evolving and getting better each week. With so much pressure put on the blitz this is the perfect game for Williams to take advantage of the young Arizona State secondary.

Tim Patrick is healthy and the Utes could be getting Cory Butler-Byrd back this week. The Utes have seen Siaosi Wilson come into his own. Evan Moeai has been huge for the Utes with Harrison Handley out, but with the possibility of Handley coming back, the tight end position could be a big factor.

“They complement one another and they’re different types of players,” said Whittingham. Harrison has more size at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, and Evan is a little undersized, more of an H-back. They both bring different things to the table and have made big contributions”


3. Let Joe Williams do his thing


Williams has been huge since coming back for the Utes. Each game is another impressive outing and NFL scouts are paying attention. The offensive line has been providing gaps for Williams and he's taking advantage of them.

“It means so much to us, the team, the running game and he has been a great story for what he’s done for us the last couple games,” said Whittingham. “I’m proud of him and it’s great to have him back. He’s done a great job”

The Sun Devils put so much emphasis on the blitz but teams are still averaging 202.8 yards rushing per game against the Sun Devils. If Williams can continue to pick apart teams, Utah will have the advantage.

The game is on FS1 at 7:30 p.m.

Carra McManamon is a native of Washington State and is attending the University of Utah. Contact her at cmcmanamon@deseretdigital.com or follow her on Twitter: @curramac22