After losing their first conference game of the season against USC last week, the Huskies are in need of an opportunity to get back on the right track. Tomorrow, they get a dose of just what the doctor ordered when Arizona State, the owners of a four-game losing streak, comes into town.
During their current losing streak, the Sun Devils have struggled to move the ball offensively, averaging just 85.75 rushing yards per game and four touchdown passes against six interceptions. In fact, ASU hasn’t produced a 100-yard rusher since their 68-55 shootout win over Texas Tech on Sept. 10. However, Washington’s thin depth at linebacker thanks to season-ending injuries suffered by Joe Mathis and Azeem Victor (the team’s leaders in sacks and tackles, respectively) could translate into attempts by ASU early in the game to attack the Huskies between the tackles and control the line of scrimmage.
On defense, the Sun Devils and their blitz-happy scheme have produced 28 sacks and 77 tackles for loss, figures that rank fourth and seventh, respectively, in the conference. However, that high-risk, high-reward approach has also allowed opponents to complete an FBS-worst 52 passing plays for 20 yards or more. (The Pac-12’s No. 11 team in that regard, California, has given up 19). John Ross and Chico McClatcher will most likely be targeted early and often on deep routes, then, as Jonathan Smith looks to keep the ASU defense honest and provide some room for Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman in the running game.
Despite Washington’s injury concerns on defense, the Huskies should have what it takes to beat the Devils by a comfortable two- or three-score margin. Expect Chris Petersen to keep his foot on the gas in this one as he works to keep his players sharp and focused so that they can enter next week’s Apple Cup on a high note. Washington 41, Arizona State 24.
ASU is probably gonna be the recipient of plenty of UW anger this week and I don't envy them. I think if they're disciplined about the run game then there could be lots of payoff there even though there will be plenty of runs for no or little gain. We know Gaskin and Coleman can make things happen so it's just a matter of remaining committed since, once past the 123918 players that Todd "Crew Cut" Graham sends at the line of scrimmage, there's lots of space after that.
Similarly, ASU's blitzing penchant leaves plenty of space for receivers to get open so even with the added pressure on the O line, Browning should be able to get the ball out quickly with relative ease.
On offense the Sun Devils have shown they have firepower, but I don't see many facets there that are /so/ dangerous that it'll have to keep the Husky defense honest. Seeing a great defense like the Dawgs' get caught vulnerable is usually the result of the opponents having a different threat or two that prevents them from fully being able to commit, opening up opportunities for other playmakers. I don't see that happening Saturday.
Final: Washington 42 - 24 ASU.
Last week, we got to see (had to watch) what happened when Jake Browning and the Husky offense didn't have the physical advantage, and it was largely repulsive. This week that will not be the case against an ASU defense that gives up a lot of big plays. They have been statistically sound against the run, but have been kind of boom or bust with their attacking scheme. I look for UW to come out throwing, struggle to run early, then hit their stride later in the ground game.
Defensively, UW should be able to get pressure with four and cover well in their base defense. I wouldn't be surprised to see some blitzing if for no other reason than to get more comfortable in coverage when using a blitzing scheme. There were so many coverage breakdowns against USC and I can't help but think a change in scheme attributed to that. The defense should have a good game against Manny Wilkins and the ASU offense. The skill players for ASU are good, but the offensive line is depleted.
To quote Bob Rondeau, "Gimme the Dawgs in this one." 52-17.
Nobody blitzes more than ASU. This is a statistical fact.
Nobody beats the blitz more than Jake Browning. This, also, is a statistical fact.
With the Louisville Cardinals and their Heisman hopeful, Lamar Jackson, taking a royal butt-kicking on national TV last night, the door has been cracked open for both the Huskies and their quarterback. I think the Dawgs are going to kick it down.
Expect the Sun Devils to throw the kitchen sink at the Dawgs. Their offensive line is a mess and their QB situation is not good. They’ve had success out of the wildcat (the “sparky package”) and getting the ball in the hands of young playmaker N’Keal Harry. Beyond that, there isn’t much going on.
Look for the Huskies to win the turnover battle by something in the +3 to +4 range and for UW to deploy a balanced rush and pass attack that the Sun Devils simply can’t handle. It’s style points time, folks. Chris Petersen knows it. ASU 13, UW 41.
It's been a long time since the Huskies have beat ASU. Sometimes Arizona State has been the better team, and at other times Washington has simply face planted. This year, things seem to line up perfectly for Washington to break another streak against a Pac-12 foe.
I was probably a bit harsher on the Sun Devil offense in my preview on Tuesday than I ought to have been, because this is till an offense that ranks in the top 40 nationally in points per game. Kalen Ballage, Demario Richard, N'Keal Harry, and Tim White are dangerous skill players who can hurt the Huskies. Without the big and physical Azeem Victor manning the middle of the field, I suspect ASU could try to attack that space where young DJ Beavers will try to fill Victor's shoes. Ballage's size and strength is a matchup they will try to exploit. On the other hand, OL injuries and QB inconsistencies have hampered the Sun Devil attack, especially recently.
Defensively the Sun Devils have a good DL that will attack, attack, and attack some more, in true Todd Graham fashion. They will also bring their signature exotic blitzes and do anything they can to disrupt Jake Browning like USC did last week. The Husky OL will be tasked with handling the blitz and opening up running lanes for Myles Gaskin and the run game, which has seemed to slow down in recent weeks.
In the backend, ASU is a mess, giving up yards and TDs at a rate worse than every team in the country. There's no doubt UW will attack deep and find success there against a historically bad pass defense.
ASU may keep it interesting early on - they were up 13-0 on Utah to start their game - but will fold when the run game gets moving and Browning's deep balls connect. Manny Wilkins is okay, but he's no Sam Darnold and I can't see him making the plays Darnold did. Washington will eventually jump all over ASU forcing them to pass, and that's usually the kiss of death for an opponent in Husky Stadium. Sun Devil kicker Zane Gonzalez will hit some field goals, but it won't be enough. Washington wins, 56-23.