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Arizona State Preview: Offense

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Taking a look at how Mike Bercovici and the Sun Devils stack up against the Husky defense.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback

Mike Bercovici (Sr., 6-2, 210)

Bercovici has had a strange redshirt senior season. He's thrown for 2473 yards and managed 19 touchdowns (plus 5 rushing TDs) against 8 interceptions. Yet he has completed 59% of his passes and averaged only 6.7 yards per attempt and the team as a whole has underperformed compared to expectations.

He is capable of incredibly high highs, and yet the efficiency just hasn't been up to snuff. For the sake of comparison, Jake Browning has averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. Still, he is a capable passer who is not afraid to escape the pocket and sling the ball on the run. He isn't someone a defense can ever relax against. If you don't know what I mean, throw on some highlights from his game at the Coliseum last season.

Offensive Line

LT Evan Goodman (Jr., 6-4, 310), LG Christian Westerman (Sr., 6-4, 300), C Nick Kelly (Sr., 6-3, 295), RG Vi Teofilo (Sr., 6-4, 315), RT William McGehee (Sr., 6-6, 314)

Five upperclassmen, four seniors, and yet this line ranks dead last in the conference with 29 sacks allowed. Some of the responsibility does belong with Bercovici, who can be all over the place in terms of his pocket awareness, but it's still an awfully high number.

The run blocking has been more middling. The Sun Devils are 6th in the conference in total rushing yards as well as rushing yards per carry. They have done well enough to allow Richard to exhibit his considerable talent.

Running Backs

TB Demario Richard (So., 5-10, 220), RB Kalen Ballage (So., 6-3, 230) OR De'Chavon Hayes (Jr., 5-11, 190)

I remember Richard as a recruit because UW pursued his commitment before he decided to take his talents to Tempe. He is a strong, compact back that flashed last year as a freshman before validating the excitement this season.

He has amassed 775 yards and 6 touchdowns in 138 carries (5.6ypc) in eight games. He missed some time in October but has come back strong with back to back 100+ yard games in losing efforts against Oregon and WSU. He's also a solid pass-catcher, with 26 catches for 236 yards and 3 scores.

Ballage is an even thicker backup, rushing for 394 yards and 2 scores in limited action. Foster, now mostly a receiver, occasionally carries the ball on the ground as a third option.

Sometimes I think about the idea of UW splitting carries between Richard and Gaskin and I get a little emotional.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

X Devin Lucien (Sr., 6-2, 195), Y Gary Chambers (Sr., 6-4, 215) OR Tim White (Jr., 5-11, 185), Z DJ Foster (Sr., 6-0, 195), H Raymond Epps (So., 6-5, 230), TE Kody Kohl (Jr., 6-3, 231)

Foster is the workhorse here, with 45 receptions for 436 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has had an amazingly versatile career at ASU, serving as their starting back in the recent past and now a valuable slot receiver for his senior year.

Devin Lucien, a transfer from UCLA playing out his first and final year as a Sun Devil, has caught 36 passes and 2 TDs and leads the team with 477 yards. Meanwhile, Tim White is just behind him with 35 catches and 441 yards but leads the team with 6 TDs.

Kohl has been useful in the red zone, with 4 TDs, with Chambers as an occasional target as well.

Overview

The Sun Devils are 4-5, just like the Huskies. They rank 6th in total defense and 6th in total offense. It is as good a chance as Washington has had in years to finally win one down in the desert.

Personally, I'm most excited to see what Travis Feeney and the rest of the defensive front can do against the ASU offensive line in pass protection. It is ASU's greatest weakness, and after being mostly stonewalled by a tough Utah line, the Huskies should be eager to get at Bercovici.

Feeney, Littleton, and Wooching are the most likely to get around the edge, but I recommend keeping an eye on Greg Gaines, the young defensive tackle who has stepped up in the absence of Elijah Qualls. He recorded 10 total tackles this past Saturday, and if could manage to make that kind of impact against Utah, ASU is in for a real treat.

The Sun Devils boast a deep receiving corps, but I'm not especially worried abut those matchups given what we have seen from Sidney Jones, Darren Gardenhire, and Kevin King the past few weeks. Bercovici will make some irritating plays after slipping out of the pocket and throwing it up, but those habits are just as likely to bite him in the ass against a ball-hawking set of defensive backs.

One big question in terms of pass protection will be whether or not Budda Baker can go after sustaining a concussion on Saturday. If he can't, all the more need for the pass rush and the aforementioned corners to take pressure off of what will be a fairly thin safety group.

Demario Richard is the kind of back that stays low and bounces off poor tackles. My biggest worry in this one is that the Huskies show the same poor tackling as last week and allow the young back to sustain drives and give Bercovici the opportunity to slow things down and get in a rhythm. The Sun Devils love yards after the catch, but if the run game is nonexistent, the opportunity to dink and dunk will evaporate.  Bottle Demario up and suddenly Bercovici's lack of efficiency becomes a predictable liability.

Much has been made of Washington's inability to beat ASU over the past decade or so. Honestly, I think the real danger of that streak being extended lies with the Husky offense. The UW defense has not been bad at any point this year with the possible exception of the Stanford game, and even after a tough home loss to Utah, they probably deserve the benefit of the doubt.