Arizona State-Washington: The Preview
The stage is set, the teams are prepared. The only thing left is to settle the score on the field tonight at Sun Devil Stadium.
Arizona State comes into this game needing a victory in the worst way. Washington, well the Huskies are in need of a win as well, to kick start the "we're going bowling again" chants.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, the two teams must settle this "bowl game or bust" showdown at Frank Kush Field tonight.
Jake Locker has been the talk of the town since his arrival in Seattle three seasons ago, and he has yet to disappoint.
However, Locker did have his 2008 season cut short due to an injury, but he has subsequently moved on past that and has exploded this season.
Under Steve Sarkisian's tutelage, Locker has passed for 1,423 yards and 10 touchdowns in the first six games of the season for Washington.
On defense for the Sun Devils, it all starts with shutting down Jake Locker. Locker has still managed to use his mobility in this pro-style offense this season; however, it is his runs that are fooling defenses.
The Sun Devil defensive line will have a big hand in who wins or loses this game tonight. If Dexter Davis and the front four can pressure early and often, it will force Locker to pass and try and beat ASU with his arm.
The more times the opposing quarterback passes the football, the better it has been for ASU's defense this season.
The Sun Devils have 11 interceptions on the season and a +7 turnover margin, which leads the Pac-10.
On offense for Arizona State, it is same story, different week. Danny Sullivan is still the man under center for Dennis Erickson and ASU, but the fans would lead you to believe otherwise.
The Sun Devil Stadium crowd against Oregon State two weeks ago, let the coaches and players know how they felt about their performance, especially one Danny Sullivan.
Although Sullivan passed for over 300 yards against the Beavers, he followed that up with a sub-par performance against lowly Washington State. But for the ASU offense to succeed, the running game has to balance out the offense for optimum success.
Arizona State has gone from a team that used to pass the football 40 or more times a game, to a team that wants to run the ball 40 times a game. With this philosophy, the Arizona State defense will be rested and ready to shut down the Huskies.
Couple that with the fact that Washington is ninth in the Pac-10 in both rushing defense and passing defense. With that being said, the ASU offense should be able to put up some points.
Player to watch for Arizona State: Dimitri Nance
The tone of the game might have been totally different against Washington State, if both Dimitri Nance and Senior quarterback Danny Sullivan protected the football.
Unfortunately, that was not the case, and a "sloppy, ugly" name tag was attached to the ASU-WSU contest.
There is no doubt that Nance has made the most out of his starting role as ASU's featured running back. The senior has 366 yards on the ground and 126 yards receiving this season, with six touchdowns.
If ASU is going to win this game, Nance will have to reach the century mark on the ground, while also receiving on quick screens and when Sullivan checks down to the running backs.
The key to the game is to protect the football. Another six-turnover performance by ASU, might spell "doom" for Dennis Erickson and his bunch.
Player to watch for Washington: Jake Locker
The junior from Ferndale, Wash., was targeted by Erickson coming out of high school, when Erickson was coaching the Idaho Vandals. Many media outlets tout Locker as a "poor man's Tim Tebow."
Honestly, Locker has a far better arm than Tebow, and runs when necessary, instead of Tebow's style of a big running back who just so happens to pass the football too.
But nonetheless, Jake Locker has to be the focus for the ASU defense. ASU Freshman linebacker, Vontaze Burfict will be in a one on one battle with Locker from the first snap, to the last second of the game.
Along with Burfict, Mike Nixon, Travis Goethel, and Brandon Magee will have to swarm against the run, and force turnovers.
The defense might have to be counted on to score against the Huskies tonight, although, the Sun Devils have scored in two of their three home games this season.
Arizona State has to get back on track tonight. The talent for ASU is abundant, even if there are a few injuries. On offense, there will be a question on how much the ASU top two receivers play in this contest.
Kyle Williams and Chris McGaha did not practice this week. Both of the receivers did participate in the team walk-through yesterday at the stadium.
On a good note, Tom Weber will likely kick extra points and short field goals for ASU in key situations, now that his injury has subsided.
But the story will undoubtedly revolve around No. 15 for Arizona State. If the offense can manage to light up the scoreboard early, well then he will have 50,000 fans screaming his name, if the offense sputters again, much like last week, well the chants for "Brock" will rain down from Sun Devil Stadium.
I think the defense is going to do enough in this contest, to keep the offense in the game late, however, as fans get their wish Brock Osweiler will once again come in for a few possessions in the game, I think that a late touchdown drive led by Senior Danny Sullivan will be the difference in the game.
The defense will force turnovers, as well as shut down the Huskies ground attack. Jake Locker will once again return home from Sun Devil Stadium, empty handed.
Final Score: Arizona State 23, Washington 17
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