Sep 28, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils wide receiver Jaelen Strong (21) spikes the pitchfork in celebration after beating the USC Trojans 62-41 at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Today I wanted to delve into a few categories that I believe are the very essence of Arizona State football and looking at their home vs not at home marks.
Granted, the Devils played Stanford and Notre Dame, two difficult defenses, away from home (Notre Dame being a neutral site game). But this is a Sun Devil trend over the past few to several seasons, they are a different team outside of Tempe. This is why I believe the Cougars are in terrific shape to “upset” the Devils this weekend.
Perhaps the biggest number of the football game is minus 40. The Devils have play seven football games; five in Tempe, one in Palo Alto and one in a dome. None of those challenged ASU to play in the cold and in fact Tempe won’t go below 5o degrees all week. At kickoff I would say the temperature should be around 35 degrees in Pullman (low of 33 with a few showers the forecast). Generally it’s not a big deal but for this team is going to feel like 10 degrees.
The Sun Devils average 2.5 yards less per carry away from home. Again, the competition has a lot to do with that but it’s still worth noting. At home they run 46 times per game for 225 yards behind Marion Grice. Away from home they run under 25 times per game for about 57 total yards.
The number of Jaelen Strong, by far the Devils’ best receiver. The Cougars need to identify #21 on every play and put a lot of coverage his way, much like they did with Marqise Lee. Make anybody else beat you in the passing game. #1 is another important number for WSU to locate, but he’ll be in the backfield for most of the game and the offense tends to forget about their running game on the road.
The amount of special teams touchdowns the Devils have accumulated to this point in the season. This number must stay at zero.
The number of interceptions the ASU team has come up with. The Cougars need to stay away from throwing these.
ASU has only seen 5 red zone attempts in their non-Tempe games. Keeping this number low is paramount to the success of the Cougs this week. The last several games it seems like WSU opponents have lived in the red zone.
While this is about 122 yards less than what the Devils average in total offense at home, it’s still too much for the Cougs to have success this week. I think it’s imperative that WSU hold ASU under this number to win the football game Thursday night.