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Q&A with House of Sparky: Talking ASU Sun Devils Football

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Learn about Arizona State from an SBN Managing Editor

Washington v Arizona State Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Earlier this week we talked with Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28), editor for the SB Nation community House of Sparky regarding this week’s matchup with Arizona State.

Here's what we learned in our Q&A:

UWDP: Quarterback was a question mark entering the season, and injuries have not helped matters. What is the status of Manny Wilkins heading into this game? How has he performed in your opinion? Who is next in line?

Connor: Wilkins looks to be fully healthy heading into this one. His play has been a mixed bag throughout his sophomore season, but given the fact that he has a very mediocre receiving corps and has been battling multiple different injuries, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and call this a solid year.

Arizona State entered fall camp with three quarterbacks battling for the starting spot, but two of those signal callers have since been lost due to injury. That means if Wilkins goes down on Saturday, you'll see true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole. Sterling-Cole has already been pressed into action earlier in the year, and enters this week having thrown one touchdown and four interceptions.

UWDP: The Wide Receiving corps seems to be a strength of the Sun Devil team. Tim White is the leading receiver, but N’Keal Harry looks like the real deal. Tell us about these two and other playmakers in the receiving game. How has the pass protection been?

Connor: White and Harry always have big play potential but this is still a passing offense that is ranked in the mid-40s nationally. They are still getting used to playing with Wilkins (it can be tough when receiving balls from three different quarterbacks in one season) and finishing off routes has been a recurring problem.

As far as pass protection goes, it's been bad at times and nonexistent at others. The offensive line play is one of this team's many weaknesses.

UWDP: ASU has two very good running backs in Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard. Should we expect to see a fair amount the “Sparky” package? How has the offensive line performed in the running game?

Connor: If it's working, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey will go to the Sparky well often on Saturday. That has been the one reliable source of offensive production throughout the past month or so.

UWDP: The ASU defense has allowed over 37 points per game. Is it better than that number indicates? The unit is known for blitzing like crazy. Should we expect to see that Saturday? Who are some key defenders to watch?

Connor: I'd like to tell you they are better than that number indicates, but than I'd be lying. This defense (and secondary, specifically) has many, many problems, and while Graham has tried to mask those errors by blitzing a little less this season, nothing seems to be working.

If there is one guy to watch out for, it's defensive lineman Koron Crump. He has 30 tackles and nine sacks in 10 games and is the Sun Devils' best bet to make life tough on Jake Browning.

UWDP: What are your thoughts on Todd Graham being given (at least) another season? Is the fanbase still behind him?

Connor: This four-game losing streak hasn't been ideal, but that is largely a product of the team's injury woes and challenging schedule - two things that aren't exactly Graham's fault. With that said, I think some key staff changes need to be made in the offseason, and if the team doesn't improve in 2017, he could very well be gone.

I'd say most of the fanbase is still behind him. They remember the Dennis Erickson days well, and this program has grown so much under Graham in such a short time. But after saying he expected a national title last year only to finish with a losing record, grouped with 2016's late-season woes, the whispers are definitely getting louder.

UWDP: Arizona State has owned the Huskies for over a decade. What is your prediction for this game?

Connor: Like they did against Utah, the Sun Devils hang tough for three quarters before the clear talent differential catches up with them. I'll take Washington, 42-20.

To Read our answers to their questions, click here.