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Opponent Offense Preview: Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State is struggling mightily on offense, but are coming off a bye and have a recent history beating Washington.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 07 Colorado at Arizona State Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I’m still celebrating the Oregon win, but the Huskies do eventually have to play another team. On deck this week are the 1-5 Arizona State Sun Devils. Head coach Kenny Dillingham coordinated Oregon’s excellent offense last year, but between injuries and the challenges of a rebuild in the post Herm Edwards era, the Sun Devils have yet to catch fire - or even heat up - offensively.

The Players

Get to know the name RB Cameron Skattebo, Arizona State’s do it all weapon. He runs, he catches, and has even attempted four passes on the season, completing three for 60 total yards. He hasn’t a huge year, but is capable of putting up numbers. Oh, he’s also punted once for 53 yards. Against USC (not exactly the most vaunted defense), he took 20 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown, caught four passes for 79 yards and a touchdown, and completed two of three passes for 42 yards. His TD reception was a pass out of the backfield where he run through and over a few Trojan defenders up the sideline, showing his trademark physicality and balance. The 5-10, 212 pound Sacramento State transfer is a capable and powerful runner, though is just averaging 3.9 yards per carry with 5 touchdowns.

USC v Arizona State Photo by Bruce Yeung/Getty Images

At receiver, nearly everything goes through the the 6-2, 190 pound Elijah Badger. He has 33 receptions for 422 yards and 2 touchdowns this year. He’s got excellent size and ball skills, and can force missed tackles after the catch. TE Jalin Conyers is a strong and physical player at 6-4 and 265 pounds with good play strength and can out muscle defenders for catches. He has 17 catches for 179 yards on the season.

Last but not least, there is QB Trenton Bourguet, thrust in action after both QBs Drew Pyne and Jaden Rashada were injured. He’s fairly accurate completing 65% of his passes, but is throwing for just 7.4 yards per attempt (and an average depth of target of just 6.3 yards) with one TD and two interceptions. PFF gives him just two “big time throws” on the season and five turnover worthy plays.

The Scheme

Kenny Dillingham took over play calling duties in the USC game, and the Sun Devils had their highest scoring output of the season with 28. Everything ASU fans have said is that the offense has looked better since then. In terms of play calling, this is a pass first attack, but not terribly aggressive one as more 66% of passes are behind the LOS or less than 9 yards. They’ve only attempted nine passes of greater than 20 yards, and have connected only on three. They don’t run a lot of play action either. With the offensive line and quarterback injuries, it’s no surprise they rely on quick passes and a small dose of the run game. Despite Skattebo’s running, 78% of their yards come from the pass game. Things can get off schedule quickly and Arizona State reaches the red zone less than 3 times per game.

The End

This is just not a very good offense at the moment. They are 116th in rushing EPA, and 127th per drop back. Injuries have obviously played a huge factor, but they averaging just 18.7 points per game, last in the conference. Playing the third string quarterback (albeit the QB who beat Washington last year) behind a patchwork offensive line (injuries to five of their top eight linemen), instead of week 1 starter Jaden Rashada, is holding them back.

Washington has been great preventing explosive runs this year, and has yet to allow a rush of 20 yards or more, and only a handful of runs of more than 10 yards. On the other hand, the Huskies are allowing more than four yards per rush, and Skattebo is an efficient, not explosive runner, with a long of just 18 yards this year. It would not be a surprise for Skattebo to succeed with a methodical run game against the Huskies. However, the offensive line is the weakness of the team, and the Husky pass rush should finally come alive in this game.