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Previewing ASU’s defense

NCAA Football: Washington at Arizona State Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

I realllly hope Notre Dame smashes USC this weekend. Also, lol @espn for giving BYU six points over ECU tomorrow. If you can’t tell I’m still crusty from last Saturday. Anyway, let’s take a look at the Arizona State defense.

Arizona State Defense

31, 30, 52, 35, 34. That’s how many points the Arizona State defense gave up in its first five games. And then somehow, some way, the Pac 12 Gods smiled and guided them to a 13-7 win over the then-fifth ranked Washington Huskies. I guess that’s the Pac 12 for you. While the win was impressive, I still think it was a fluke, and here’s why: Sparky didn’t force a single turnover. Yes, Jake Browning was held to 139 passing yards, and Myles Gaskin sputtered for 67 yards, but I chalk it up to a bad week for the Huskies. In watching some tidbits of the game, I saw plenty of drops, and a key offensive lineman injury. I don’t want to be too salty, but let’s take a look at the ASU defense’s entire body of work:

  • Game 1 against New Mexico State University: gave up 398 passing yards and 151 yards on the ground
  • Game 2 against San Diego State: gave up only 73 yards in the air, but 279 on the ground
  • Game 3 against Texas Tech: gave up 543 passing yards (!) and 72 rushing yards (against a team that probably doesn’t even have a running back)
  • Game 4 against Oregon: gave up 281 yards in the air and 120 rushing yards
  • Game 5 against Bryce Love: gave up 173 in the air and 331 on the ground

Overall, they don’t look that scary. The numbers bear this out. Sparky is the 106 ranked overall defense in the FBS. In six games, they’ve only forced five turnovers. Only seven teams in the FBS have done worse than that. Teams have scored 20/24 times against them in the red zone, about 83.3% of the time. Opponents convert on third down against this defense 41.3% of the time, good for 90th place in the FBS. Like I said, not that scary.

Unfortunately for us, these glaring weaknesses don’t mean anything unless we can make something happen on the offensive side of the ball. Per usual, we won’t know who is starting at quarterback until game time, so I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s Troy Williams. Seeing him last week was encouraging- I know, I know, we lost. And yes, he’s, well, not that good. But he’s serviceable, and as long as he can take care of the ball, and not leave Darren Carrington wide open in the end zone again, I think we should be alright (still bitter). Also, I would expect a heavy dose of Zack Moss this game, given that he really found his sea legs in the Colosseum. Overall, I like this matchup for the Utes and think that we’re going to see a resilient offense step up and put some points on the board.