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Arizona State at Washington Game Preview

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When Washington has the ball:

Jake Locker threw for 310 yards and ran for 110 last week against USC. It was total rebound game for Jake who suffered through the worst performance of his career the previous game against Nebraska. Look for Jake to have another big game against an ASU defense which isn't living up to expectations this season.

The Devils haven't been able to mount much of a pass rush in their first five games. They are last in the Pac 10 with only five sacks. They also are prone to giving up way too many big plays and have a nasty habit of keeping opposing teams drives alive with silly personal foul penalties. Jake is going to have the time he needs in the pocket to put together a big day.

The Sun Devils have given up too many big plays. In their last three games, they've allowed nine pass plays of 20 yards or more and 12 rushes of 10 yards or more. ASU also has not generated many turnovers this season. They currently rank 117th in the nation in turnover margin (minus-1.4).

Jermaine Kearse is averaging 107.5 receiving yards per game which is tops in the conference. He has had a case of the bobbles the last couple of weeks in key situations. Kearse has the ability to bust the ASU defense deep and those type of opportunities are going to be there for him and Devin Aguilar on Saturday.

Chris Polk has been steady as usual this season. He has rushed for 356 yards in four games averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Polk has the speed to break the big one and the strength to carry people with him for extra yards between the tackles. The Huskies are 13-13 this season with eight TD's and five FG's inside the red zone this season and Polk's physical running style is a big part of that equation.

When ASU has the ball:

ASU runs a no huddle offense that moves well between the 20's but starts to struggle once it runs out of space in the red zone. Turnovers, penalties, and blown assignments have been the problem. Over the last three games the Devils have been in the red zone 13 times and only have four touchdowns to show for it.

Steven Threet has proven to be an upgrade at quarterback, and leads the Pac 10 in passing, but he already has thrown 10 interceptions this season. He has a good arm but his decision making ability can be flawed at times. Washington hasn't picked the ball off much this season but the opportunity should be there on Saturday night.

Last week against Oregon State Threet was 14-29 for 203 yards and a touchdown. He also was sacked six times and threw three interceptions. ASU likes to snap it and throw it. In the spread scheme they rarely use a tight end so a quick release is necessary to avoid the pass rush. Obviously protecting the quarterback remains a problem for the ASU offensive line. If Washington can get some penetration on Saturday they are going to be able to force a lot of errors.

Despite the red zone problems the Devils are averaging 301 yards per game in passing offense and are averaging a respectable 468 yards in total offense per game. Frosh RB Deantre Lewis has rushed for 100 yards in three consecutive games. Look for the Sun Devils to continue mixing in Lewis to the game plan in order to keep the Huskies from the temptation of blitzing Threet all evening.

This is a game where the Washington defensive line can get a little redemption. The offensive lines they faced the last two games are a quantum leap above what they will see this Saturday.

Special Teams:

Washington's kicking game has been solid all season. Erik Polk is coming off a game where he was named the Pac 10 player of the week.  Only a few weeks ago an announcer called it the worst kickoff coverage he had ever seen at this level. The coverage and return units showed noticeable improvement in the win against USC.

ASU has had some kicks blocked this season but overall they have done an adequate job on special teams so far. The Sun Devils are the best return team in the conference so Washington needs to make sure they button up the coverage.

Intangibles:

Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State's leading tackler, will not start Saturday at Washington as disciplinary action for head-butting Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz last week.

CB Deveron Carr is out with a shoulder injury. WR Aaron Pflugrad is out with turf toe. OT Dan Knapp who didn't play against Oregon State is expected to miss his second straight contest. RB Deantre Lewis will play the game with a shoulder strain.

Washington RB Johri Fogerson is out for the fourth straight week with a hip flexor injury. WR/KR Kevin Smith will be sidelined a couple of weeks with a broken thumb. DT Cameron Elisara has been bothered by shoulder stingers but is expected to play.

Position Matchups:

Quarterback: Washington

Running Backs: Washington

Receivers: Washington

Offensive Line: Washington

Defensive Line: Arizona State

Linebackers: Arizona State

Defensive Backs: Even

Special Teams : Arizona State

Steve Sarkisian quotes:

"I love him (Erickson) He's been there, done that. He's a great guy to bounce ideas off of. I think his team embodies his personality. They are tough; they really are. They play hard."

"They are a scary, scary football team. They move the ball up and down on offense, they are a wide-open attack. ... they've been turning the ball over, especially in the red zone, and if they get that fixed they are even more scary.''

"They've got the best kickoff return team in the conference, which has been a real challenge for us going on.''

Dennis Erickson quotes:

"Our problem is not a physical problem but an execution problem. As you go through the red zone, you can’t make mental mistakes like throwing it to the wrong place or having bad snaps. We’re just not finishing the drives. There are things down there that we can do better and we are looking at that. We have to do the same things going in as we do coming out. That’s our issue and that is why we have lost three games in a row."

"His behavior is under control when he can control it. He will go along for 58 minutes and somebody will shove him or hit him from behind and he reacts to it. He is reacting to things that are not important. So somebody blocks you or shoves you after the whistle – that’s football."

"He (Locker) did what he does and he is one of the best in the country. They ran the option a little bit more than they had earlier. They’re getting the ball in his hands more as far as the run game is concerned. There is probably no better way to do that, since he is one of the best athletes around. He is a warrior, like Tim Tebow was for Florida and that is the best comparison I can have for him. That's what he's all about."

"They (Washington) played well and with great emotion. They won in the Coliseum which is pretty hard to do. In this league, you never know from one week to the next what is going to happen. As you look at them, they have improved quite a bit and the bye week obviously helped them. They are one of the better teams in the league."

Factoids

Kickoff Saturday is set for 7:15 p.m. and the game will air on FSN.

Washington holds a slim 15-14 edge in the head-to-head series.

Arizona State has beaten Washington seven consecutive times.

ASU ranks 10th in the nation in net punting and second in kickoff return average.

ASU ranks in the middle of the Pac-10 in total defense (fifth) and scoring defense (seventh).

Oregon and Oregon State scored a combined 73 points on the Sun Devils over the last two weeks.

ASU has lost eight straight conference games.

UW Punter Kiel Rasp 12th in the nation with an average of 45.31yards per kick.