Arizona State Football: 5 Startling Statistics from Sun Devil's 2013 Campaign
The Arizona State football team has had its fair share of ups-and-downs through its first five games, and a quick look at the Sun Devils' stats can tell the story of why they are 3-2.
The Sun Devils were expected to have one of the best defenses in the conference coming into this year. Unfortunately for Sun Devil fans, they haven't been able to live up to the hype.
ASU has struggled mightily when it comes to stopping the run and recently they have had their secondary exposed as well.
It's not all doom and gloom in the desert though.
Jaelen Strong has emerged as one of the better receivers in the country and Marion Grice has continued his torrid scoring pace.
Now, here is a look at five stats that explain why the Sun Devils have succeeded and struggled thus far in 2013.
All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from cfbstats.com or ESPN.com.
182.8 Rushing Yards Per Game Allowed
The Sun Devils have allowed teams to rush for 182.8 YPG this season. If ASU wants to capture their first Pac-12 South crown that number needs to go down dramatically throughout the rest of the season.
Arizona State's front-seven was supposed to be the strong suit of their defense.
Through five games this year though, they haven't quite lived up to those expectations. It's not necessarily fair to just pick on them though as the entire defensive unit hasn't played well.
As Brad Denny of azfamily.com writes, the Sun Devils knew they were struggling going into their matchup with Notre Dame a week ago:
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham left no room for doubt that his team's defense against the run was the most pressing matter facing the Sun Devils' quest for a Pac-12 title. After the last three weeks, it's easy to see why.
In each of ASU's three games against FBS teams this season, the defense has surrendered at least 230 yards rushing and an average of over six yards per carry.
Those numbers are terrible, especially for a team that was supposed to have one of the most talented front-sevens in college football.
4 Straight 100-Yard Receiving Games for Jealen Strong
Jaelen Strong has quickly emerged as one of the best receivers in college football thanks to his streak of 100-yard receiving games.
Strong extended his streak to four games against Notre Dame last weekend and now he's doing so under the national spotlight.
The receiver was recently added to the Biletnikoff Award watch list and is starting to garner more attention on and off the field.
Quarterback Taylor Kelly and Strong have worked the back-shoulder fade to perfection this year and are becoming a fantastic quarterback-wide receiver tandem. When the Sun Devils need a big play through the air, it's a safe bet the ball is going Strong's way.
His 569 receiving yards are Top-15 in the country and his big body and natural talent have Strong poised to put together a special season in Tempe.
13 Total Touchdowns for Marion Grice
Marion Grice leads the nation with 13 total touchdowns this year.
While he didn't have the best game against Notre Dame last weekend, this season he's been an X-factor on ASU's offense.
Grice has a rare ability to make plays when all seems hopeless. If the ball is in his hands, there's always a chance he could score.
Grice is humble however and told Brad Denny he isn't thinking about his chances of breaking ASU's single season touchdown record saying, "It’s going to take care of itself. I don’t keep up with any individual stats. I just keep up with team stats. I just keep playing hard.”
Grice is another guy who has captured a slice of the national spotlight and it doesn't look like he'll fade away anytime soon.
For ASU to continue racking up points and yards offensively, the Sun Devils need Grice to continue to perform at his best.
Much was made about ASU's defense this offseason, and rightfully so.
Last year the unit finished with 51 sacks, with Will Sutton and Carl Bradford accounting for 23.5.
Through five games this year, the Sun Devils have only recorded seven sacks, and Sutton and Bradford have only accounted for three.
This is alarming considering how dominant Arizona State's defensive front was supposed to be this year.
The Sun Devils haven't been able to get consistent pressure on any quarterback and their total of seven sacks is close to the bottom of the Pac-12.
While there is plenty of time left for Sutton and company to right this ship, they need to do so fast.
Just two years ago, ASU ranked last in the Pac-12 accounting for 104 penalties.
Insert Todd Graham, and the Sun Devils quickly became one of the most disciplined teams in the nation.
Last year, their total of 56 penalties was tops in the Pac-12 and their total of 18 penalties so far this year is good for second.
While the Sun Devils have shot themselves in the foot this year and it's cost them victories, fans can rest their hat on the fact that the team is still incredibly disciplined, and dumb penalties aren't costing them victories anymore.
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