Players to watch
DT Will Sutton, LB/DE Carl Bradford, LB Chris Young, S Alden Darby
S Marcus Ball (Shoulder—questionable), LB Chans Cox (Shoulder—out), LB Alani Latu (Ankle—out), Junior Onyeali (Shoulder—out), S Demarious Randell (Groin—out)
After a monster year (63 tackles, including 23.5 for loss and 12.0 sacks in just 12 games) that led many to peg him as a first-round draft pick, unanimous All American defensive tackle Will Sutton seems to have taken a step back this year, having made just 2.5 tackles for loss and a solitary sack through the season's first six games. It's likely that his dip in production is related to his increased size, as Sutton bulked up from 267 lbs. last season to 305 lbs. this year, and is likely still getting used to playing with his increased heft. Even if he isn't playing at his highest potential, he'll likely give the Husky interior offensive line fits, especially if Dexter Charles' shoulder injury holds him out of Saturday's contest.
Picking up the slack of Sutton's play is primarily outside linebacker/defensive end Carl Bradford, a 6-1, 243 lb. terror who leads the team with 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. He's also smart enough to know when to get his mitts up, and despite his small-ish height for the position, he's already deflected three balls through the season's first half.
Opposite Bradford plays Chris Young, a one-time Husky recruit who signed his letter of intent to play for the Dawgs but wasn't academically admitted to UW. After a turn at Arizona Western Junior College, Young started each of ASU's 13 games last season and is a key cog in their defense. He leads the Sun Devils with 41 tackles (his next closest competitors have 29) and is unquestionably one of ASU's field generals. He's devilishly quick in covering lateral ground (he runs a 4.5 40-yard dash) and will be a key component in countering UW's screen passes and end-arounds.
It's hard to pick out just one defender of note in Arizona State's secondary, mainly because so many of them have legitimate talent: Five defensive backs have snagged 10 interceptions for the Devils this season (compared to four Washington defenders, who've made seven grabs), including two for touchdowns. If you're going to keep an eye on just one player—which would be a mistake, because they all have talent to spare—it should probably be Alden Darby, a senior safety with two picks and 29 tackles to his name. Darby has also broken up four passes on the year and forced a fumble against USC; my money is on Sark and Co. game-planning to play keep-away from Darby and his skilled cohorts in the secondary. For once, though, the Dawgs catch a lucky break in not having to play Junior Onyeali, who led the team with 13 defended passes last year.
As always, thanks to College Football Statistics, ESPN and USA Today's College Football Injury Report for the relevant data that went into this article. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking below.
<a href="https://twitter.com/ryanpriest" class="twitter-follow-button" data-show-count="false">Follow @ryanpriest</a>