The 3-2 Sun Devils are readying for their earliest kickoff of the season against Pac-12 South rival Colorado on the road. The winner of this one could potentially take control of the division as the no. 21 Buffalos remain undefeated at 4-0. Here’s how ASU escapes chilly Boulder with a Win.
Build on the Run Game
Head Coach Herm Edwards is intent on building ASU into a run-first power football team, and he continues to push that plan forward each week.
Against Oregon State Sun Devil Running Back, Eno Benjamin, broke a school rushing record with 312 yards. Establishing the run again and controlling the game clock against Colorado will keep ASU’s defense fresh for four quarters. One positive development is that Senior Left Tackle, Casey Tucker, is back in the lineup on Saturday which will give ASU multiple personnel options on the Offensive Line.
— ASU FB Recruiting (@RisingSunDevils) October 5, 2018
Although N’Keal Harry has put up very respectable stats over the course of five games, employing packages that get him the ball in multiple ways will keep the Buffalo defense off balance. Opposing defenses have shifted coverages on #1 in order to limit his big play ability. We watched N’Keal take snaps this week in what ASU Offensive Coordinator Rob Likens refers to as the “Secretariat” (formerly known as the Sparky) formation which allowed him to score on a 6-yard run against Oregon State last Saturday.
Contain CU QB, Steven Montez
The Devils’ defense has shown some vulnerability in containing mobile quarterbacks. They will not face a more slippery improvisation-master than Colorado’s Steven Montez. He has wiggled out of the grasps of would-be tacklers and turned sure losses into explosive plays all season. At times ASU has struggled with fundamental tackling and allowed too many yards after contact. They must be more effective at finishing plays and remaining disciplined in their assignments to shore up explosive plays in Boulder.
Keep a close eye on Colorado WR Laviska Shenault Jr
Colorado has almost provided ASU a blueprint on how to maximize the talent of one of the best receivers in the nation. The Buffs get the ball to WR Laviska Shenault Jr (highlights below) in a myriad of ways. He has run fly sweeps out of the backfield, and he’s been pre-snap motioned into positions that create horrible mismatches for defenses. The Sun Devils will have to be mindful of Shenault Jr’s whereabouts at all times and be able to adjust coverage schemes pre-snap to avoid unfavorable situations.
.@RunRalphieRun's Laviska Shenault Jr. caught 🔟 passes for 1️⃣7️⃣7️⃣ yards and he had the game-winning touchdown.
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 10, 2018
Colorado will lean on the colder weather (59 degrees expected at kickoff) much in the same way that ASU took advantage of the 100-degree heat vs Michigan State in Tempe earlier this season. There is a slim chance of scattered showers, so ASU must quickly adjust to unfamiliar conditions. At an altitude of 5,328 feet, the Boulder air is thin. In their loss to Colorado last week, UCLA players were drawing from oxygen machines throughout the second half. Expect Herm Edwards’ coordinators to rotate players more frequently Saturday to keep ASU fresh down the stretch.
Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM MST on the Pac-12 Networks.
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) October 4, 2018