Chris Jenkins

Three Tines To Victory: Washington

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This week, the Sun Devils travel to Seattle for a matchup against the Washington Huskies, who are fresh off their first loss of the season. The Huskies are ranked 7th in the S&P+ ratings, giving them a 93-percent chance of victory over the Sun Devils, with a projected margin of 25.6 points. They may be the best team ASU will face this season, and with ASU as banged up and playing as poorly as they are, there isn’t much hope for a Sun Devil victory on Saturday.

Ten games into the season, we all know what ASU’s weaknesses are: the pass defense, tackling, and the offensive line (these aren’t the only weaknesses, just the most glaring). So sitting down and writing about three things that the Sun Devils need to do to win this game seems redundant and fruitless. The truth is that they will need to be good at things that they haven’t been good at all year, against a really good football team on the road. This is highly unlikely. So rather than lay out Three Tines to Victory, like normal, we’ll look at some of the things that make Washington a good team, and contrast those qualities with Arizona State.

First off, the Washington offense is really good. Their S&P+ rating ranks 11th overall, and they rank 4th in explosiveness (IsoPPP), 5th in efficiency (success rate), and 3rd in finishing drives (points per trip inside the 40). The run game is good, averaging 5.5 yards/carry, but it’s the passing game that is especially potent. Quarterback Jake Browning averages 9.9 yards/attempt, which is fourth in the nation, and has a TD/interception ratio of 35/5. Their top four receivers all average over 10 yards/target, with John Ross and Chico McClatcher being especially explosive, averaging 17 and 20 yards/catch, respectively. This is bad news for the ASU defense, as giving up explosive plays in the passing game is their specialty. They rank 123rd (out of 128) in defensive passing IsoPPP.

On the other side of the football, the Huskies defense is pretty impressive as well. They rank 5th in defensive S&P+, and are particularly good at not giving up big plays, ranking 4th in defensive IsoPPP. The pass defense only gives up 5.7 yards/attempt, which ranks 4th, while the run defense gives up 4.1 yards/carry (50th). They have created a lot of turnovers this season, and have a turnover margin of +15. They are also pretty good at getting to the quarterback, ranking 33rd in defensive sack rate. However, their best pass rusher, Joe Mathis, is out for the season after injuring his foot last week against USC. It appears that ASU’s best hope is to be able to run the ball against Washington, but that is something the Sun Devil offense has really struggled to do since early in the season.

The bottom line is that ASU just does not appear to be equipped to beat the Huskies, especially on the road in Seattle. So watch the game with low expectations, and be happy if they don’t get blown out. This is a game they would have been expected to lose even if things had gone better over the last month or so. Look forward to next week, when the Sun Devils will have the opportunity to defeat a very beatable U of A team in the Territorial Cup.

About Chris Jenkins

Chris Jenkins

Chris is a long time Sun Devil fan who has had season tickets for 20+ years. He graduated from Arizona State University in 2004 with a degree in economics, and later returned to get his master’s degree in accounting, the field in which he currently works. His football passion is analysis of schemes and stats, and his football experience includes being the backup quarterback of his high school football team, and a moderately successful 1-year stint as the offensive coordinator of his little brother’s Pop Warner team. He currently resides in Goodyear, AZ with his wife and 4 children.

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