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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

October 7, 2007 at 6:56 PM

Some thoughts on ASU

As noted elsewhere on the blog, I was in Pullman this weekend for the WSU-Arizona State game.
Here are some thoughts on that game, relevant here with the Huskies playing at Arizona State next Saturday.
— The Cougars surprisingly blitzed a ton after WSU coach Bill Doba had said publicly earlier in the week that it might be time for his team to tone it down a bit and play more bend-but-don’t-break. Doba, however, decided the opposite for this week due in large part to the fact that Sun Devil QB Rudy Carpenter is pretty immobile. WSU got to Carpenter for seven sacks and minus-50 yards, and threw off ASU’s offense much of the day.
Doing that, however, obviously means leaving corners on an island, and just as surprising, ASU never hit any really big plays against the Cougars — ASU’s longest pass was 25 yards. Not sure completely why given how other teams had roasted the Cougars’ secondary all year — maybe some of those young kids in WSU’s secondary suddenly got a lot better. The weather (it was pretty windy, officially 15-20 MPH at kickoff) also took a toll, I think, and ASU also decided to go more conservative and emphasize the run as the game went on.
Bringing pressure is a strategy the Huskies might want to follow given Carpenter’s lack of wheels, but somewhat at odds with what UW has been doing all year, and riskier on the road.
— Carpenter threw two interceptions. One was a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage that a linebacker caught. The other was a horrible throw into double coverage on an out route that fluttered in the wind for about a minute it seemed like before WSU safety Husain Abdullah picked it off. I think that’s when Erickson decided to go with the short passing game more. Both were in the first half.
— In the continuing discussion of second-half adjustments that is a favorite on this board, all but two of WSU’s seven sacks came in the first half as the Sun Devils appeared to go with more quick passes (another reason for the lack of long plays) and obviously decided to emphasize the running game in the second half. ASU RB Ryan Torain (who missed some time with cramps) had 69 of his 116 yards in the fourth quarter as the Sun Devils used their big offensive line to eventually wear down the Cougars a bit. That might sound like faint praise given WSU’s defensive problems this year, but the middle of the Cougars’ D-line is pretty big and played well. I think ASU thinks its strength is its running game, and given UW’s trouble stopping the run of late, that will be a key to the game.
— ASU likes to play man coverage on defense, which helps the Sun Devils take away the run, but also can result in some big pass plays if the opponent can hit them. It took WSU a while, but the Cougars eventually did, throwing for 369 yards. But ASU’s aggressive style also helped result in one interception that was returned for a touchdown (the third this year for the Sun Devils). I’d expect ASU to try more of the same against UW, which will put the onus on Washington’s receivers to get open on press coverage, and for Jake Locker and the receivers to connect on some timing routes. The Cougars did so enough to stay in the game, but I think WSU’s receivers are pretty good, probably better than UW’s right now (true freshman Jeshua Anderson looks like a real find for the Cougars).
— The overall theme in the ASU locker room afterward was of satisfaction over winning a road game, but feelling as if the Sun Devils could have played a lot better. “We didn’t play like we needed to,” said Erickson. “But it was a good win for us. We have a lot of things to work on.” Erickson afterward mentioned being unhappy with the play of his offensive line, so that will likely be a real focus for the Sun Devils this week.



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