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Opponent Offense Preview: Arizona State

Arizona State’s program is a mess, but the offense has weapons.

Eastern Michigan v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Players

QB Emory Jones transferred in from Florida and immediately won the ASU starting QB job. He’s been up and down this season - on the one hand, he’s thrown for over 1,000 yards with a respectable 62% completion rate, averaging 7.5 yards per attempt. On the other, he’s got just 4 touchdowns to 3 interceptions and has been sacked a whopping 14 times, which says as much about him as it does the Sun Devil offensive line.

At 6-3 and 210 pounds, he boasts exceptional athleticism (though he is not as shifty as DTR) which he uses to evade the rush and pick up positive yardage on scrambles. He’s got a strong arm and is a good passer when rolling out or on bootlegs. Like many quarterbacks, he can struggle when asked to stand in the pocket and read through his progressions.

His main target is the 6-2 Elijah Badger, who could develop into the best Sun Devil WR since Brandon Aiyuk. Last season he took two of his three rushing attempts for touchdowns and can be dangerous with the ball in his hands. They haven’t given him the rush attempts this year, but he’s the focal point of the pass game with 24 receptions. The next leading receiving is experienced senior WR Giovanni Sanders with 13 catches.

Jones’ biggest weapon is RB Xazavian Valladay, a leaner running back at 6-0 and 200 pounds, with good burst and smooth acceleration. He’s got a little bit of open field shiftiness and is a plus receiver for a running back, making him a threat on third downs. He’s not at his best being a physical between the tackles runner, but he can dash through openings in the offensive line.

Valladay is a player they will move all over to get touches in as many ways as possible. So far it’s working, with 455 yards (6.2 YPA) and 5 touchdowns. RB Daniyel Ngata gets significantly less rushing attempts (26 to Valladay’s 73) but is averaging just under 6 yards per carry himself.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 24 Utah at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Scheme

From a numbers perspective, ASU passes the ball 56% of the time and have gained 70% of their season yards through the air. As much as they feed Valladay, they do ask Emory Jones to throw downfield and over the middle.

Most plays are either quick passes, zone reads, or they get Jones throwing on the move. This offense is probably the most diverse and multiple Washington has seen all year, and will need to be prepared for shotgun zone reads, pistol, and lots of pre-snap motion. It’s also not uncommon to see them go under center and feed Valladay to take advantage of his slashing ability. They’ve also run some traditional play action out of I-formations.

Northern Arizona v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The End

Despite this being a creative and multiple offense that can hurt defenses in a variety of ways, Arizona State has been a mess and is scoring just 23 points per game. Too many fumbles, mistakes, and penalties (they are one of the most penalized teams in the country) negate any positive momentum. Unsurprisingly, they largely avoided these things during their great first half against USC. By great, I mean 17 points.

This offense has struggled all season to start fast, and the first quarter touchdown against USC was the first time they scored a touchdown in the first quarter all year. They weren’t perfect, but Jones threw for 243 yards and a touchdown, with a healthy 7.6 yards per attempt. Valladay kept the Trojans off balance with tell timed darting runs upfield, plus a 29 yard receiving touchdown. Badger was quiet but 6-3 WR Bryan Thompson had something of a breakout game with 5 receptions for 86 yards, accounting for nearly all of his season production.

Herm Edwards is out and former running backs coach Shane Aguano is the interim head coach. He got his team to perform admirably against USC and even though Arizona State’s season could be completely lost, this offense might be rounding into form at just the wrong time for UW.


How many points will Arizona State score?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    (11 votes)
  • 33%
    (67 votes)
  • 48%
    (99 votes)
  • 10%
    (21 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    43 or more
    (1 vote)
203 votes total Vote Now