Devils Den Blog

Preview: #20 Washington Huskies 4-2 (1-2 Pac-12)

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Key Wins: Boise State 4-2 (2-1 MWC), Arizona 3-2 (0-2 Pac-12)

Key Losses: Stanford 5-1 (3-1 Pac-12), Oregon 6-0 (3-0 Pac-12)

NFL Draft Prospects: QB Keith Price, RB Bishop Sankey, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, DB Sean Parker, LB Princeton Fuimaono

The Arizona State Sun Devils rebounded this week against the Colorado Buffaloes after a close loss to Notre Dame at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The Sun Devils walloped the Buffs by a final score of 54-13. It didn’t look like the loss to the Irish bothered quarterback Taylor Kelly, as he threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns before being relieved by backup Mike Bercovici at the beginning of the second half. The run game also bounced back nicely as the Devils ran for 276 yards and scored four touchdowns. Running back RJ Robinson had a great second half, rushing for 69 yards and one of those four touchdowns.

The defense also looks as if losing to the Irish last week was nothing more than a speed bump as the Sun Devil defense sacked Colorado QBs Connor Wood and Sefo Liufau three times while also intercepting the ball three times and forcing a fumble.

A much tougher test will come on Saturday when the Washington Huskies run into the Inferno at Sun Devil Stadium for ASU’s homecoming game. The game will kick-off at 3 p.m. (and will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks for those unable to make it to Tempe this weekend).

The Devils opened as a three-point favorite over the #20 Huskies, according to ESPN. Only time will tell if that will serve as a motivation factor for the Devils.

But, as for the Huskies, who are coming off of back-to-back losses to Pac-12 North powers Stanford and Oregon, respectively, they are looking to get back on the winning trail after opening the season 4-0.

The Huskies opened up their season by welcoming perennial BCS-buster Boise State to Seattle for the Huskies’ first game in the newly renovated Husky Stadium. Washington used the excitement of opening up their stadium and their fast-paced offense, which rivals the pace of Oregon and even looked to out-pace the Ducks’ offense at times, to beat the Broncos 38-6.

The Huskies then took a week off before traveling to Chicago to take on Illinois at Soldier Field. Washington ran up over 600 yards of offense to beat the Illini, 34-24.

The next week, UW welcomed FCS-foe Idaho State to Husky Stadium and promptly ripped them apart, 56-0.

Pac-12 play then began with the University of Arizona heading up to Seattle. The Wildcats looked outmatched in their first big game of the season, and Washington won 31-13.

Stanford came next for Washington, and they took a trip down to The Farm to take on the Cardinal. UW kept it close for the entire game, but just could not hang on in the end, and suffered their first setback of the season 31-28.

The Huskies then traveled back to Seattle and ESPN’s College GameDay joined them for last week’s game against Oregon. Although this past weekend was full of upsets, Oregon avoided catching the bug, and dispatched the Huskies 45-24.

Much of Washington’s success so far this season rests on the back of two players.

First, there’s QB Keith Price. So far this season, Price has thrown 192 passes and completed 133 of them, a completion percentage of 69.3%, for 1,576 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has also only thrown four interceptions.

Second is running back Bishop Sankey. Sankey has rushed for 899 yards on 159 attempts so far, an average of 5.7 yards per rush, and has scored nine touchdowns on the ground. Sankey is also a receiving threat, as he has 14 receptions for 134 yards and a touchdown. Last week, ASU head coach Todd Graham said that the Devils would not face another team that could run the ball like Stanford, Notre Dame, USC or Wisconsin. I guess we’ll have to see if that is true on Saturday.

The Huskies also have a very solid defensive unit that is led by safety Sean Parker and linebacker Princeton Fuimaono.

Parker is fourth on the team with 34 tackles and one tackle for loss, and he has three interceptions, one pass broken up and four passes defended this season.

Fuimaono is leading Washington in tackles with 44 and one TFL, and has a QB hit and a forced fumble this year.

The one area of the game where Washington has really struggled this season is penalties. Not only is Washington the most penalized team in the Pac-12, they are the most penalized team in the entire country! According to ESPN, the Huskies have been called for 58 penalties this season, costing the team a grand total of 513 yards. That is six penalties and 65 yards more than second-place Cal. It is also 37 more penalties and 308 more yards than ASU has been called for this year.

ASU kept their composure against Colorado and did not let this week’s game against Washington creep into their minds. The Devils looked back to their USC form as they torched the Buffaloes for 532 total yards and 54 points. But with the nation’s leading rusher in Bishop Sankey and the Washington Huskies coming to town, it is sure to be a much tighter game this week. ASU has struggled all season against the rush. In the four game stretch of Wisconsin, Stanford, USC and Notre Dame, the Devils gave up 863 yards. If the run defense is unable to at least stifle Sankey, this could be a rough game for the Devils. But, if ASU’s defense comes to play, the stadium is charged up, the offense avoids some late mistakes and is aided by some crucial Washington penalties, then the Devils could upset the Huskies and knock them out of the top 25, and get ASU closer to being back in.

But, that rush defense is just worrisome. The Devils did win their matchup with last year’s leading rusher, Ka’Deem Carey of Arizona, but last year’s rush defense was much better than this year’s. Washington’s penalty problem is a huge factor as well. In a closely contested game in the desert, Washington will eek out a win over the Devils thanks to a late Sankey touchdown.

Prediction: Washington 48, ASU 45

 

About Jeff Vinton

Jeff Vinton is a sophomore journalism and mass communication major at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He was born and raised in Fort Collins, CO and graduated in 2012 from Fort Collins High School.

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