Dec 11, 2013 - 03:24 pm - Tempe, AZ – The college football coaching carousel is hitting full stride this month. As some coaches are fired, others are courted by programs looking to improve their image and success.
Let’s take a look at how all the moves affect ASU and the Pac-12 conference.
Steve Sarkisian Hired by USC
In SC’s coaching search that included Kevin Sumlin, Chris Peterson, Jack Del Rio and interim coach Ed Orgeron, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden ultimately chose Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian.
Sarkisian has a history with the Trojans. He played baseball, later served as a graduate assistant and was an offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll. During his time with the Huskies, Sarkisian came into a program that had finished 0-12 before he arrived. And while he brought them back to life, “Sark” never took the program past average, accumulating a 34-29 record over five years.
It’s worth noting that after SC’s courting of Sumlin, he received a 6 year contract extension from Texas A&M.
Chris Petersen Hired by Washington
In the whirlwind of coaching changes, Washington hit a home run. Petersen finally made a move after rumors swirled each year about his departure from Boise State. Petersen gets to stay in the Pacific Northwest with his family, but moves to a more prestigious conference and a university with new facilities and solid financial support. Keep an eye on the Huskies.
Before the Petersen hire, UCLA Coach Jim Mora, who played for the Huskies in college, was mentioned for the Washington position. The Bruins quickly erased that idea by extending Mora’s contract at UCLA until 2019.
The next question is whether or not Washington Defensive Coordinator Justin Wilcox will stay put, or move to USC with Sarkisian.
Mack Brown to Step Down at Texas
It was announced on Orangebloods.com that Mack Brown will step down as head coach at Texas. This was inevitable, but just when this would happen was another story. The high powered boosters at Texas want Nick Saban at Alabama, and although he has denied interest in the job, sources say Saban is still very much the frontrunner. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who is taking his team to the National Championship, has also been mentioned.
How All These Moves Affect ASU
For Sun Devil fans, the development at Texas should ease some tension. When former ASU AD Steve Patterson left for Texas, it was easy to connect the dots and see a potential fit for Graham and the Longhorns. UT is a beacon of football in the Lone-Star state, and it’s hard to deny their attraction of great coaches, especially those with a history in the state like Graham.
The sooner Texas made a change, the less likely it was for Graham to be in the conversation. Had this happened next year or the year following and if the Texas native sustains his success at ASU, Graham would likely get a stronger look from the Longhorns.
Graham, the 2013 Pac-12 Coach of the Year, is not only rebuilding the ASU football program, but he is rebuilding his reputation after his departure from Pitt. He has much more to accomplish at ASU, and he is passionately engaged in what he is doing. He and his family have invested much in their new life in the Valley of the Sun.
Graham’s Offensive Coordinator Mike Norvell is the one to keep an eye on. He is becoming a hot name in the coaching ranks because of his high scoring offensive schemes at ASU.
Norvell has been with Graham since the beginning of his coaching career. He likely wouldn’t leave for a higher paying OC position, but if the right head coaching opportunity presents itself, that could change things.
For now, although the coaching carousel is still spinning, ASU should keep all it’s parts in place heading into 2014.
Dec 08, 2013 - 07:12 pm - Tempe, AZ – The sun came up today across Sun Devil Nation, but the smell of roses has faded in the distance.
After a heartbreaking 38-14 loss to Stanford last night in the Pac-12 Championship, it’s time to reflect on the game with some perspective and appreciation for what the ASU football team accomplished in 2013.
The Sun Devils came into the game with confidence and were the favorite of most college football analysts. They felt that this was a different ASU football team that was knocked around in Palo Alto earlier in the season. The stars seemed aligned and the home town fans were rocking Sun Devil Stadium at kickoff.
Even with all those positive vibes, ASU had little room for error against the defending champs, yet made plenty of them. Special teams were horrible. There were missed assignments on defense. Jaelen Strong dropped multiple passes. And there was a questionable coaching call on the goal line at a crucial point in the game.
Marion Grice was out and D.J Foster, who delivered in the first half, went down on the first play of the third quarter with a left knee injury. Prior to getting hurt, Foster played like a warrior. He put the team on his back in the first half with two exciting touchdowns that not only kept ASU in the game, but pumped life and energy into the home crowd.
Photo by Anthony Parmelee on Instagram
Regardless, Stanford was the better team last night. They had more talent and executed their game plan to near perfection. On offense, the Cardinal ran designed plays to exploit even small weakness in the top-ranked Sun Devil defense. On defense, they locked up ASU receivers and applied pressure to Taylor Kelly and what was left of the running game. Stanford played like champions and are headed to the Rose Bowl for the second straight year after defeating Wisconsin 20-14 last season.
For ASU, this season was an important journey in sustaining an elite level of football against one of the toughest schedules in the nation. And while its destination surpassed expectations, it fell just short of the promised land.
Coach Graham has taken this program back to respectability in two years. He has set the foundation to move forward with consistent success. His work ethic is fierce, and Graham and this program are far from satisfied. They will look to repeat as division champions and get their next opportunity at the Rose Bowl, nothing less.
The Sun Devils earned 10 wins in 2013, finishing #16 in the AP. They maintained a national ranking throughout their final 6 games. They beat Wisconsin who finished the year ranked #19, defeated both L.A. schools, stunned the Washington Huskies and kept the Territorial Cup home in Tempe for the second straight year. The Sun Devils finished as the Pac-12 South Champions and hosted the conference title game.
On December 30, ASU will play Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl.
As the team left the field after the Stanford loss, Sun Devil fans chanted “ASU, ASU” and applauded the players and coaches to show their respect. This team is back in the national conversation and fans are embracing and donating to the program they have been hungry for.
Time to earn Win #11 and the Holiday Bowl Championship trophy. Then get back to work.
2013 Holiday Bowl - Arizona State vs Texas Tech (Photo, Holiday Bowl)
Dec 07, 2013 - 05:13 pm - Tempe, AZ – Arizona State is 60 minutes away from packing their bags for Pasadena, and only the Stanford Cardinal stand in their way.
Coming into this game the Sun Devils have a tremendous amount of confidence and momentum. In unseasonably cold weather, Stanford brings their smash-mouth style of football. However, the Sun Devil offense is humming and their Hell’s Gate defense has evolved into a menacing force since ASU and Stanford met in September.
The DieHard Storyline for the Pac-12 Championship game tonight will include a Thunder and Lightning attack, a battlefield at the line of scrimmage and a new and improved Sun Devil defense.
ASU Students to be the Loudest Advantage for the Devils
Thunder & Lightning Rushing Attack
Offensively, it is imperative that ASU puts the ball in the air because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to. Staying out of 3rd and long yardage will be the difference in maintaining the momentum that Mike Norvell and his offense has found. De’Marieya Nelson, the Devils’ “jack of all trades” showed last week that he can soften a defensive front and pick up tough yards between the tackles. DJ Foster proved himself as an every-down back and looked as explosive as ever. I see ASU pounding the Stanford front, spreading their defense across the field, play-action passing and running the Devil version of the triple option. This will allow for ASU to keep the Cardinal off balance and get to the edges for substantial gains.
ASU O-Line Ready for Cardinal Physical Defensive Front
The ASU offensive line dominated the trenches against Ucla and Arizona. However, the Stanford front seven prides itself on stuffing the run and getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They are one of the top 3 defenses in the country. Moving the chains will be no easy task, but look for a ton of counter, misdirection, and pistol formations to keep the Cardinal guessing. ASU QB Taylor Kelly will rely heavily upon in the read option attack to make good decisions. The ASU version of the triple option went for the first TD last weekend, and you can expect more from the Cardinal. It won’t surprise me if Kelly has close to 100 yards rushing in this game.
The 12th Man
New and Improved ASU Defense Ready to Roll
The ASU Hell’s Gate defense has a few new gate-keepers since the last meeting, and this is where I believe the outcome changes. Stanford wants to compress the field and run the ball down their opponent’s throat. Davon Coleman has moved from a defensive end to a 3-techinque D-lineman, and his explosiveness off the ball will cause havoc in the Cardinal backfield. SAM linebacker Salamo Fiso didn’t start in the first meeting, but has solidified the position with head-cracking run defense up the middle and speed to prevent big plays on the edges. Safety Damarious Randall was coming off an injury and didn’t know the defense yet in September. He is a certified “Bird Gang” member and plays the run like a strong safety. These personnel changes allow ASU to drop a safety when needed because they’re not getting bullied up the middle.
Stanford QB Kevin Hogan isn’t a big run threat, but he can move the chains with his feet when plays break down. As long as Hell’s Gate maintains gap integrity and “squeezes” the field to their play-makers (Chris Young), the Devils can keep the Cardinal from opening their playbook. Massive O-lineman hate speed, and the Sun Devil defense has plenty to burn up front.
ASU Special teams is back on track since the first meeting between these teams, with secret weapon PK Zane Gonzalez and Alex Garoutte rugby-style punting. Kick coverage still has to improve because field position will be a huge factor in this game.
* * *
This one is for the Roses for the third time in ASU football history. The Sun Devils have momentum on their side and if they handle their business, they will punch their ticket to the Granddaddy of them all. My reservations for Pasadena are already made.
Dec 07, 2013 - 01:44 pm - Words have the power to inspire people to do incredible things and acheive amazing goals.
If you're a Sun Devil fan looking for three more reasons to get fired up for the Pac-12 Championship game tonight, look no further. Here are the Top 3 Locker Room speeches of all time.
As you will see from these videos, certain coaches have the special ability to say the right things at the right time to motivate their team and push them to new heights. We can only imagine what Coach Graham will say to his team in the locker room tonight before they walk through Tillman Tunnel and step foot onto Frank Kush Field.
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Al Pacino in "Any Given Sunday"
Kurt Russell in "Miracle"
Billy Bob Thornton in "Friday Night Lights"
Dec 07, 2013 - 12:50 pm -
Tempe, AZ – Senior Linebacker Chris Young has been the heartbeat of the top ranked Sun Devil defense all season, pumping energy into his teammates with his aggressive play. As nice of a guy as he is, Young loves to inflict damage on the field.
A dynamic force in the middle, Young (6' / 244 lbs) intimidates the opposition with his big time hitting, solid technique and Tillman inspired toughness. He has the quality character and work ethic that Coach Graham wants from his players. And because of that, he has also earned the Pat Tillman #42 practice jersey multiple times in 2013.
Young has totaled 6.5 sacks this year, including 3 against UCLA to help secure the Pac-12 south. He also has a team leading 95 tackles with a season high 14 at Utah. His production will be missed next season, but there is still work to be done during his final two games at ASU.
* * *
Senior Chris Young is going to be relentless against Stanford tonight.
DHD: How has this ASU team evolved and gotten better since the loss to Stanford earlier this season?
CY: “The last time we played Stanford, our emotional level was low coming out in the first half. It was a big game at that point in the season, but we really didn’t know who we were as a team yet. We’ve definitely matured more since then. Understanding our abilities and talents, and learning how to play together as a unit has been one of the biggest things we have improved on. Taking that into games and coming out on top has definitely brought us closer.”
DHD: Although you had a respectable 10 tackles against Stanford earlier this season, you also had zero sacks. What do you personally need to improve this time around?
CY: “Stanford is a big team and we’ve just got to come out and play fast and physical on defense. It’s about making plays, being in the right place at the right time and taking care of our individual assignments. Just being relentless will be the main thing I focus on as an individual.”
DHD: The coaching staff has done an excellent job preparing the team for each game. How have they helped you get better throughout the season?
CY: “The coaching staff definitely knows what they’re doing with all the schemes. One of the things that they’ve been good at is making adjustments at halftime. Coach Graham also tells us to have more passion and fire when we come out in the second half. We’ve been able to do that and have success.”
* * *
Young plans to continue his stellar play against against Stanford tonight. He will be on a relentless mission to stop Cardinal players in their tracks and make them think twice before they square up with him in the open field. Slowing down Stanford's powerful rushing attack will be a tall order, but Young is a determined, big-time player hungry to avenge ASU's loss in Palo Alto earlier this season.
This will be his final game at Sun Devil Stadium. He's focused on doing a lot of business in the Cardinal backfield tonight, and will surely break 100 tackles on the season. His performance in this Pac-12 Championship game could bring the Sun Devils back to the Rose Bowl. When asked about his message to ASU fans he replied, “We’re bringing back the Pac-12 championship.”
Dec 06, 2013 - 11:58 pm - With the Pac-12 Championship Game upon us, the digital universe has been flooded with pictures and imagery from fans and players of both universities. We've scoured our feeds the last couple days for pictures that capture the hype and excitement of tomorrows Arizona State-Stanford match-up in Sun Devil Stadium.
Sun Devil fans are coming together like never before. And while they're smelling roses the Stanford Cardinal, last year's Pac-12 and Rose Bowl Champions, have entered Tempe with the confidence of a top national program that has sustained its success.
Despite much of Sun Devil Stadium being covered with Pac-12 signage and despite the low temperatures and chance of rain, this game is in the "House of Heat". Supporters of the Maroon & Gold will be out in full force, hungry to push their Sun Devils over the top in this final game. If they do, ASU and Sun Devil Nation will head back to Pasadena for the marquee 100th "Grandaddy of them All".
Dec 04, 2013 - 04:01 pm -
Tempe, AZ – Sun Devil offensive lineman Christian Westerman quietly goes about his business every day.
Putting in the same amount of time and hard work as his teammates, he patiently waits his turn to play at ASU.
A highly rated local recruit, Westerman transferred to ASU to be closer to family and make a contribution to the hometown Sun Devils. He was also attracted to the new culture that Todd Graham is building in Tempe and saw a bright future for the program.
Although ineligible to play this season, he’s not surprised at the team’s success this year.
“I knew this team had the talent, it was just a matter of putting everything together,” Westerman said. “One of the main reasons behind our success has been our strength and conditioning. Guys have gotten stronger and faster as the season has progressed. We also have great leaders on the team and a lot of players have stepped up this season.”
A talented player who is also hyper-competitive, Westerman is craving to help on game day. Seeing his team have so much success makes him proud and happy, and he is doing whatever he can to contribute until he can play next season.
OL Christian Westerman after the 2013 spring game.
“I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help this team. Right now, I’m on the scout team every week, so I’m able to contribute and help get the team prepared.”
There is no doubt that having a 5-star offensive lineman on the scout team has certainly made Will Sutton, Carl Bradford and Jaxon Hood better each week as they prepare for their next opponent.
Looking ahead to next season, the Sun Devils will lose senior offensive linemen, Evan Finkenberg and Kody Koebensky. Westerman is ready, willing and able to step in and fill the gap.
When asked what he will bring to the table in 2014, he responded, “The number one thing is aggressiveness. I like to be very physical and knock my guy off the line and take him down. I look forward to next season and being able to contribute on game day.”
For now, Westerman knows he is doing all he can to help the 2013 Sun Devils reach their goal of a Pac-12 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl.
#55 is ready to have a BIG impact in 2014.
Dec 03, 2013 - 04:51 pm - This season will be only the third Pac-12 Championship Game in history, but it will be the first in which both participants have a top-12 BCS ranking. No. 7 Stanford (10-2, 7-2 in Pac-12) will play No. 11 Arizona State (10-2, 8-1 in Pac-12) at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Even though the teams have the best average rank of participants in the short history of the game, this will be the least expensive Pac-12 Championship Game to date.
Unlike other most major conference tournaments, the Pac-12 doesn’t have a set location for it’s tournament, but gives home field advantage to the participant with the best conference record. As we’re seeing here, that means cheaper tickets because it’s harder to plan a trip around the event. In fact, the location this season wasn’t decided until the last regular season game, which they did with a decisive 58-12 win over in-state rival Arizona.
This is not only Arizona State’s first time as a host for the Pac-12 Championship Game, it’s their first time in the game as the winner of the South division. This is technically a home game for the Sun Devils, and that’s what Arizona State fans are treating it as. Based on the latest data from TiqIQ, the average price for Pac 12 Championship tickets is $119, which is just above the Sun Devils season average of $104. By comparison, their game last week against Arizona had an average price of $147. This is also the cheapest of the big three conference championship games this weekend. Prices are currently 49% below Big TEN Championship tickets, and 70% below SEC Championship tickets.
Get tickets to the 2013 PAC-12 Championship Game - Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium, TEMPE, AZ
One big reason for the low average price is that no many Cardinal fans will be there.Those that do decide to make the trip will have to travel over 700 miles. Last season when Stanford hosted and won the Pac-12 Championship Game, the average ticket price was $144.53. That’s almost double the regular season average for Stanford football tickets this season and 13% above the cost of this year’s championship game.
Although ticket prices were more expensive last season on the secondary market, anyone looking for a last minute ticket could have walked up to make their purchase. Attendance for the 2012 Pac-12 Championship Game was only 31,622 in Stanford Stadium, which holds a capacity of 50,000. Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe holds over 71,000 people, and it will be interesting to see what percentage of seats they fill. The 2011 game held at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon had an average price of $151 and was sold out, and then some. The game drew 59,000 for the 54,000-capacity Autzen Stadium. That, however, is the norm for Oregon football tickets since the stadium’s expansion in 2002.
Another factor contributing to the low average price for the Pac 12 game is that Stanford fans are likely saving their money for a trip to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl. The current average price for Rose Bowl tickets is $856 and Pasadena, California is equidistant to the two schools–380 miles from Tempe and 360 miles from Stanford. For the Cardinal, the Rose Bowl is familiar territory, as they won the Rose Bowl last season by defeating the Wisconsin Badgers. Arizona State, on the other hand, has not made an appearance in Pasadena since 1996 and has not won since 1987. As a result of all that pent-up demand, we expected that prices would move a little higher if Arizona State emerges victorious in the Pac-12 Championship.
In addition to the opportunity for a trip to the Rose Bowl, a Sun Devils win would extend the host-team winning in the Pac-12 championship. It would also be a major step toward bringing the Arizona State program back to relevance after almost 20 years of mediocrity. For fans attending the game this weekend, that alone would be worth the price of admission.
Dec 02, 2013 - 04:45 pm - BACK 2 BACK
DieHard Storyline Results from Game 12
Tempe, AZ – The 2013 Territorial Cup will stay in Tempe for another year.
On Saturday night, the #11 Arizona State Sun Devils went to work and dominated the Arizona Wildcats in front of a sold out crowd at Sun Devil Stadium.
There was plenty of hype heading into the game after Arizona beat top ranked Oregon the previous week, along with ASU trying to secure home field advantage for the Pac-12 Championship game.
The Sun Devils came out determined, focused and prepared to dismantle the Wildcats, and that's exactly what they did.
Here’s how the DieHard Storyline played out in the 2013 Territorial Cup.
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Does Foster + Lewis = Grice? (No, but Foster & Nelson Does)
“DJ Foster will attempt to match Grice’s production, both rushing and receiving out of the backfield. A healthy dose of RB Deantre Lewis will be needed to manage the number of carries Foster gets between the tackles. It will also allow D.J. to line up in his customary slot position where he presents a tremendous match-up advantage for ASU.” – DieHard Storyline
Any concerns about whether or not D.J. Foster could step in for Marion Grice were erased by the end of the first quarter. Foster came out fast and furious and finished the game with 23 carries for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, the other impact player in the backfield wasn’t Deantre Lewis who left the game with an injury, it was 6’3” / 230 lb DeMarieya Nelson. Nelson provided power in short yardage situations with much success (8 carries / 35 yards / 1 TD).
DeMarieya Nelson brings athletic power to ASU's Offense
Contain the 1-2 Punch of Carey & Denker (Carey Provided the Only Punch)
“The ASU defense will have its hands full containing running back Ka’Deem Carey. He is explosive out of the backfield, and the Wildcats will be relying on him heavily tonight. Containing BJ Denker in the pocket is no easy task. He is very prone to taking off with the ball for yardage or throwing on the run. Forcing Denker to throw under duress and keeping him pinched in the pocket will go a long way in stalling the Wildcat offense.” – DieHard Storyline
Ka’Deem Carey got his yards (32 carries / 157 yards / 1 TD) but didn’t have much of an impact until the second half. Carey was visibly frustrated as the Sun Devil defense stopped the Wildcats on 3 fourth down attempts. Although he broke loose for a few big gains, QB BJ Denker was contained for the majority of the game. Will Sutton and Carl Bradford applied plenty of pressure to either sack Denker or force him to make ill advised throws. Defensive backs (Alden Darby, Osahon Irabor & Damarious Randall) had 3 interceptions, but none was bigger than Randall's pick-six which stole any momentum that UA had built in the game.
ASU's Chris Young attacks UA RB Ka'Deem Carey
* * *
The Sun Devils are hitting their stride at the right time, and their confidence is at an all time high. And now, something we thought was impossible a few weeks ago has happened. ASU is hosting the Pac-12 Championship game at Sun Devil Stadium this Saturday. #7 Stanford is the last team remaining between the Sun Devils and the Rose Bowl.
Dec 01, 2013 - 01:25 pm - The Devils prepare to break their 10th rock of 2013
Tempe, AZ – There was plenty of buzz in the air and plenty at stake when the Sun Devils and Wildcats took the field for their Territorial Cup battle on Saturday night. Fans packed Sun Devil Stadium to see if ASU could claim victory, keep the cup and earn home field advantage for their Pac-12 championship game with Stanford next week. The Sun Devils got the job done by beating the Wildcats 58-21, to finish with 10 wins on the regular season and keep the Territorial Cup in Tempe.
The Sun Devils received the opening kickoff and chewed up some clock early with a 13 play, 54 yard drive that took 4:37. They could only manage a Zane Gonzalez field goal to take an early lead 3-0. The ASU defense also set the tone early with two sacks and good pressure on Wildcat QB BJ Denker. On their next possession, the Devils marched down the field again, but had to settle for another Gonzalez field goal increasing their lead to 6-0. After the ASU defense held again, Taylor Kelly hit Darwin Rogers on a beautiful play call by Mike Norvell for a 38 yard wide open score along the sideline in front of the student section. End of the first quarter, ASU 13 – UA 0.
The Sun Devil defense continued their solid play and held the Wildcats on two fourth downs. D.J. Foster was on a mission in the first half and scored on a 14 yard TD run to increase the ASU lead to 20-0 with 12:58 left in the half. DeMarieya Nelson followed that up with a powerful one yard TD run, and ASU was in complete control, 27-0. The Wildcats finally put together a respectable drive capped off by BJ Denker squirming his way into the endzone to get the Cats on the board. After a 50 yard bomb to Jaelen Strong, Zane Gonzalez tacked on another field goal before the half. Total yards for both teams at the break: ASU 314 / UA 211.
Halftime Score: ASU 17 – UA 10
After the break, the Wildcats came out determined and put together a 7 play, 75 yard drive capped off by an 8 yard Ka’Deem Carey touchdown. At this point, Taylor Kelly and the ASU offense had trouble finding their rhythm, but they didn’t need to. Damarious Randall intercepted a BJ Denker pass and returned it 64 yards and a pick six. That was a big momentum swing in the game as ASU increased their lead to 37-14 and never looked back. The Cats put together another scoring drive, but the Sun Devils countered with a 61 yard bomb from Taylor Kelly to Jaelen Strong. ASU was in control at the end of the third quarter 44-21.
The Sun Devils didn’t take their foot off the pedal in the final quarter as DJ Foster hammered his way into the endzone on a determined 7 yard scoring run. ASU led 51-21 with 13:17 left in the game. Later, the Devils put a final nail in the coffin with a one yard DeMarieya Nelson TD run. The Sun Devils finished with a total of 478 yards (274 passing / 204 rushing). The Wildcats finished with 424 total yards (175 passing / 249 rushing).
The Undisputed Champions
Nov 30, 2013 - 05:36 pm -
Tempe, AZ - The Duel in the Desert is upon us, and things just got a bit more meaningful after both programs had defining wins last week.
ASU clinched the Pac-12 South with its win against Ucla, and has a chance to host the Pac-12 championship game with a victory today. The Wildcats won big over Oregon, and will be looking to play spoiler to the Sun Devil hosting party. As if bragging rights in the state weren’t enough, now this game holds national rankings and Rose Bowl implications.
Above and beyond all of the moving parts for tonight's game, our Diehard Storyline comes down to a pair of critical issues for the Devils to #KeepTheCup.
Does Foster + Lewis = Grice?
Offensively, ASU will be without its biggest weapon in RB Marion Grice who was injured at UCLA. D.J. Foster will attempt to match Grice’s production, both rushing and receiving out of the backfield.
A healthy dose of RB Deantre Lewis will be needed to manage the number of carries Foster gets between the tackles. It will also allow D.J. to line up in his customary slot position where he presents a tremendous match-up advantage for ASU. This game, more than any other, will require the offensive line to own the trenches to open up more space for Foster and Lewis.
QB Taylor Kelly used the ASU version of the triple option effectively in the rivalry game last season. Look for more deception, misdirection and formations that we haven’t seen from Offensive Coordinator Mike Norvell in tonight’s game.
Contain the 1-2 Punch of Carey & Denker
ASU's “Hell’s Gate” defense will have its hands full containing running back Ka’Deem Carey. He is explosive out of the backfield, and the Wildcats will be relying on him heavily tonight. I foresee some new looks from the ASU front seven, including stacking the box and forcing QB BJ Denker to beat them with his arm.
However, containing Denker in the pocket is no easy task. He is very prone to taking off with the ball for yardage or throwing on the run. He also likes to roll out to the left side. The ASU “Bird Gang” defensive backs need to be cognizant of where the line of scrimmage is before leaving counterparts to stop Denker. To prevent explosive plays, better fundamental tackling than last week is a must tonight.
Forcing Denker to throw under duress and keeping him pinched in the pocket will go a long way in stalling the Wildcat offense. Fans can also expect to see some new wrinkles on UA's offense from Coach Rich Rodriquez.
ASU's defense has struggled with the run against opponents who lined up in double tight end formations. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wildcats try to replicate that and keep an extra blocker at the line of scrimmage to help against the attack-minded front seven of ASU. There will be a subtle chess match behind the scenes of what is sure to be another nasty brawl that has come to define this Territorial Cup series for decades.
* * *
Turnovers have historically been a huge factor in deciding the game winner in this rivalry. Momentum for either side can also carry a team to victory. Furthermore, special teams can be a significant factor since this game has been decided by a touchdown or less in the last four meetings.
Plenty of subplots will play out tonight at Sun Devil Stadium, and if the Devils can win the Cup twice in two years, they will also host Stanford on December 7, a development that gives ASU an added advantage to get to the promised land in Pasadena.
Sun Devil Athletics @TheSunDevils - A sea of gold to protect our territory and help keep the cup! #AZvsASU
Nov 30, 2013 - 03:08 pm - Senior Alden Darby
Tempe, AZ – Senior Day was invented for guys like Alden Darby.
His leadership this season has been priceless. He picked up where Brandon Magee left off last year.
A respected veteran and leader of the Sun Devil defense, Darby is the vocal sparkplug who has enfused high energy every day in practice and more importantly, on game day. Nicknamed “Ballhawk,” Darby studied under Omar Bolden and is now passing the defensive back torch to stud freshman, Marcus Ball.
But #4's not done.
* * *
DHD: It’s hard to believe your Sun Devil career is coming to an end, what’s been on your mind going into this final game of the regular season?
AD: “It went by too fast. The City of Tempe, Arizona State University and all the fans have been really good to me. It’s sad that it’s coming to an end, but everything good doesn’t last forever.”
2012: Darby as a Junior with Brandon Magee as a Senior
DHD: What kind of impact has Coach Graham had on you as a player, person and a man?
AD: “When Coach Graham came in, it helped me build character on and off the field, and helped me become a better man in life in general. Playing for him taught me that life is more than just football. It’s about school, the community and helping others.”
DHD: How does it feel to be the Pac-12 south champs and what can this team still accomplish?
AD: “Being Pac-12 South Champions is not an accomplishment. Being the overall Pac-12 Champion is our goal. To be that champion, you had to win the south. We haven’t done anything yet, we want to be Pac-12 Champs and win the Rose Bowl.”
A Complete Sun Devil
DHD: What will be going through your mind on Senior Day and the Territorial Cup game?
AD: “I don’t plan on this being my last game at Sun Devil Stadium. Ka'deem Carey is a great back, but we have the #1 defense in the conference, and he has to come through us.”
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If you get to your seats prior to kickoff today, you can applaud Alden Darby and each Sun Devil Senior as they are introduced before their final homegame. Strike that -- we're in sync with Darby. This will be their second to last game in House of Heat.
It's time to defeat UofA. ForksUp
SUN DEVIL for LIFE