Countdown to Devils vs Huskies Kick-off: Here’s what to watch unfold during this must-win game for both teams.
Huskies on Offense
The ASU defense has struggled in run defense against some of the better rushing offenses in the country. UW happens to have the nation’s leading rusher in RB Bishop Sankey (149.8 yards/game). Look for ASU to give multiple looks with it’s front 7 to disrupt blocking schemes (UW showed a lot of zone-blocking against Oregon last week). Graham will get his best defenders in position to make plays before Sankey can get a head of steam. Today, ASU’s Devil defense will be much more stout than recent weeks because of the return of ASU DT/NG Jaxon Hood.
UW has showed an incredible ability by its o-line in zone blocking schemes, and also with pulling guards allowing for Sankey to gash defenses between the tackles. After watching extensive UW game film, I liken Sankey to former CAL RB Marshawn Lynch in his ability to run through those open lanes, but also break tackles and pick up extensive yards after first contact. Sankey will be the “You can’t beat him, you can only hope to contain him”. The Devil D must fly to the ball and gang tackle on every play.
Husky QB Keith Price is very effective when forced to improvise on broken plays. He is a true game-breaker if not accounted for (having a defender spy his movement). Price’s Achilles heel: He’s been horribly inconsistent when pressured… something that ASU prides itself on. The chess match will be fun to watch to see if the Devils can contain Price with steady pressure.
Huskies on Defense
Washington made no secret about their wish to stop the Oregon running game last week. They routinely stacked the box with an extra safety. That left UO receivers to be single-covered on the outside. ASU has not shown the propensity to own the line of scrimmage against the better rushing defenses they’ve faced thus far. Watch OC Mike Norvell emphasize ASU’s interior run game in order to keep those one-on-one match-ups outside alive.
The deep flat was wide open for UO QB Marcus Mariotta to exploit crossing routes. With ASU WR Jaelen Strong, TE Chris Coyle, RB/WR DJ Foster and the emergence of true freshman Cameron Smith, the Devils’ offense has enough weapons to exploit that space… But ONLY if ASU QB Taylor Kelly has the time to let those receivers get open.
UW also did a commendable job at setting the edge against Oregon’s zone-read specialists, not allowing for consistent runs outside of the tackles. If ASU can force Washington’s defensive ends to bite on inside runs, then there should be space for Kelly and Grice to get outside. If ASU can not lure Washington’s ends to commit, then ASU will become a more one-dimensional offense today. That is not what ASU wants in this game while playing against a very athletic Husky team with a strong ability to tackle in space.
* ASU has thrived on having better field position against all of their opponents. With the Devils being favored by only a few points, special teams will be paramount in both forcing UW to go the length of the field, but also giving ASU short fields with which to score.
Comments are closed.