The Utes visit an Arizona State team Saturday (8:30 p.m. MDT, ESPN) that is coming off a humbling 30-21 loss at home to Eastern Michigan, then saw coach Herm Edwards fired the next day.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of change based on the change of head coach as far as schematics on the offense and defense. It’s tough to do that in one week. From Saturday to Saturday, there’s not a lot that can be changed in that period of time.” — Utah coach Kyle Whittingham
Running backs coach Shaun Aguano was promoted to interim head coach.
How will the Sun Devils respond as they face a ranked team at home?
What has Whittingham told his players about how to prepare for the situation?
“You tell them it’s like a wounded animal. It’s dangerous,” Whittingham said. “Oftentimes, you see where the interim comes in and they circle the wagons and give a supreme effort the next week. You never know what to expect or what’s going to happen. But if you take it for granted, they’ll beat you — I promise you that.”
Defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley agreed.
“I’ll tell you what — they’ve got talent. The interior three, those running backs, the quarterback can run the ball, so it’s definitely not for a lack of talent,” he said. “Every week’s a different week, particularly in this league. They’ve got a new interim coach, probably reenergized and rejuiced and excited to play again. We’re going to get their best shot.”
Wide receiver Solomon Enis, a Phoenix native, said he and his teammates can’t overlook ASU.
“There’s a lot of outside noise around them with coach Herm Edwards but they still have athletes. The film doesn’t lie. They’ve got athletes all over the field,” he said. “You never know. It’s an 8:30 kick down in Tempe in their stadium. It’s going to be a fun game. Looking forward to it. We’re going to get their best shot no matter what. They’re a good team.”
Whittingham was asked if the Utes need to be on alert because Aguano might try new things and show some surprises on Saturday.
“I don’t think so. Not in this case. I think Herm had a lot of faith in his coordinators and let them do their thing,” he said. “I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of change based on the change of head coach as far as schematics on the offense and defense. It’s tough to do that in one week. From Saturday to Saturday, there’s not a lot that can be changed in that period of time.”
One thing ASU needs to change is its porous rushing defense. The Sun Devils surrendered 305 yards on the ground against Eastern Michigan.
Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said despite ASU’s defensive woes, it presents challenges.
“There’s a little bit of an unknown factor going into this game right now,” he said. “They’ve got really good players. We’re going to have to play our ‘A’ game.”
“He’s got a lot to learn. But he’s getting better each week and learning a lot. The time is right now,” Ludwig said of Glover. “He’s got a great second gear when he puts his foot in the ground and gets north and south on the inside and outside zone play.
“He runs with good pad level, good ball security. Usually the last thing to come for a running back is pass protection and understanding the complexity of the protection series. He’s shown some real strides in that area.”
Defensively, Utah will face dual-threat ASU quarterback Emory Jones, a Florida transfer.
During the offseason, former Sun Devil QB Jayden Daniels transferred to LSU. Daniels and Jones are similar players.
“They’re the same style. Jayden Daniels is more elusive,” Whittingham said. “They’re both really fast. (Jones) is a bigger kid.”
The Utes had trouble with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson but they’ve improved since then.
“We did a lot better job in this past game in that regard. But (Jones is) dangerous. He played a lot of football for Florida last year,” Whittingham said. “We have to make sure we have ways to keep him contained as best we can and not allow him to extend plays and beat you with his legs.”
Scalley isn’t sure if he’ll have Diabate and/or Phillips on Saturday.
“I’m an optimistic guy. So, yeah, I hope … but it is what it is. I’m not a miracle worker. We’ve got what we got,” he said. “And we’ve got good players behind them. Next man up mentality if they can’t go and I’m excited to have them if they can go.”
As the Utes open up conference play, Enis said the feeling around the program isn’t any different.
“Not at all. We prepare week-in and week-out like we’re playing in the championship again,” he said. “We don’t take our opponents lightly. ASU is a great team and we’ll have our hands full.”
Utes on the air
No. 13 Utah (2-1) at Arizona State (1-2)
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. MDT
Sun Devil Stadium
Radio: ESPN 700