Mike Slifer

Three Tines to Victory Over Washington


This Saturday, the ASU football team takes on the visiting Washington Huskies for their homecoming game.  With ASU coming off their third straight loss, they’ll be looking to right the ship against the Huskies.

Washington Huskies at Arizona State Sun Devils (-2.5)

Devils Den offers the Three Tines to Victory over Washington

First Tine to Victory:  Keep Running The Ball

One does not need to be a football fan to know that ASU’s only identity is it’s rushing attack.  The Sun Devil running game has been able to stitch every single opponent they’ve played.  The ground game, led by running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage has been boosted by quarterback Mike Bercovici’s ability to keep the ball on the zone-read option.  Since the win at UCLA, Bercovici has been efficient with this option and has made defenses pay.  Running the ball effectively has also taken pressure off Bercovici when they choose to throw the ball.

Some people associated with the Washington football program proclaim that even with the loss of seven defenders from last year’s team, including three first rounders, that this Husky defense is actually better than last year’s.  Devils Den doesn’t think that’s the case.  Yes, that defense is holding it’s own.  They haven’t been the porous defense that everyone predicted.  But they are not better without Danny Shelton and Shaq Thompson.  While it is no secret that the ASU offensive mentality is to “take what the defense gives you”, offensive coordinator Mike Norvell should pound the Washington defense until they tap out.

Second Tine to Victory:  Treat Browning Like Rosen

Washington quarterback Jake Browning is a talented player. But he’s a true freshman.  And like all true freshman, especially at the quarterback position, he is having some growing pains.  Devils Den suggests that ASU coach Todd Graham treat Browning just like he did UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen.  Graham should abandon caution and get after Browning with the Israel Murphy-Richardsonblitzes that he loves to bring.  While caution would have been ideal against Cody Kessler (USC) or Luke Falk (WSU), not so
with Browning.  The Huskies offense is the perfect opponent for Graham’s aggressive blitzing style.  Bringing pressure on Browning will force him to be a “little more perfect” than he is probably ready for.  The trademark pressure from ASU will probably force some bad decisions by Browning.

Third Tine to Victory:  Don’t Wait for the Shoe to Drop

This might sound odd, but losing three games in a row will mess with your head.  Not just losing three in a row, but losing all three after you were ahead and in command.  When a team such as ASU has a recent history of being in control and then giving the game away in the fourth quarter, there can be a tendency for players to start expecting that to happen.  It’s human nature.  It happens at every level.  A team will come out and have success for three quarters, but they’ll remember their history and be waiting for something bad to happen.  And when a team collectively thinks that way, it usually comes true.  This phenomenon has to be recognized and subverted immediately by the leadership of this football team.  Focus must be on one thing and one thing only: the next play.  Looking at the clock, begging for calls and hoping for success is for the fans.  The players have to execute every snap with supreme confidence that their efforts will be successful.  If they don’t, then losing becomes a disease that is hard to cure.

This should be a good game to watch, in general.  And assuming that everyone is healthy and motivated for ASU, it should be a clean victory for the Sun Devils.  But of course, it has to be determined on the field.  Stay tuned and Happy Homecoming Sun Devils.

About Mike Slifer

Mike Slifer

Mike Slifer has been a teacher and football/basketball coach at the high school level for 17 years. He brings a unique perspective to the analysis of the game. Mike’s experience as a position coach, coordinator and head coach provides him with unique insights. He is interested in writing for an audience that wants more details, technical explanations and “coach think” as part of the discussion of the sport.

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