ASU-Stanford Game Preview

The Arizona State Sun Devils will travel to Palo Alto, CA to meet the Stanford Cardinal this Saturday. The bye week, which resulted from the terrorist attacks last week, caused the Devils to avoid back-to-back Pac-10 road games early in the season, as well as postponed their game at UCLA until Dec. 1st. Does ASU have an advantage playing the Cardinal as our second game of the season? This preview of ASU's next opponent may be able to answer that question.

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The Stanford offense starts with one of the better signal callers in the conference in senior Randy Fasani. While no one doubted his ability, there was some uncertainty surrounding the Cardinal's receiving core. If their season opener, a 38-22 win over the Boston College Golden Eagles, is any indicator of their offensive talent, the 1999 Pac-10 champion should squelch any questions surrounding their wide outs. Ryan Wells had an outstanding game catching 138 yards for two touchdowns. Teyo Jackson had a solid effort of his own with 4 catches for 51 yards, and his 6-7 frame posses a considerable challenge for opposing secondaries. Fasani did his part orchestrating the offense in an efficient manner, throwing for 232 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, while completing 15 out of 29 passes. Two of his touchdown passes were for 46 and 69 yards, so the big play ability of this offense is quite evident. The Stanford quarterback showed no ill effects from his knee surgery, and was elusive in his rushing attempts. Running back Kerry Carter headed a successful running game with 72 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. Stanford's balanced attack will be more of a challenge for the Devils who played an anemic San Diego State team in their only game of the season.

The Cardinal defense returns eight starters, and it was able to keep in check Boston College's offense. Specifically, it did an admirable job limiting the Eagles' William Green who rushed for only 103 yards, after amassing 203 yards the week before. That coupled with two sacks and two interceptions, translated into a defensive domination. Some of those takeaways were quickly transformed into Stanford touchdowns, which further demoralized Stanford's opponent. The Boston College quarterback threw for 17 out of 41 for 202 yards, which is another telling statistic as to the supremacy of Stanford that night. The Cardinal thrived in stopping both the pass and the run, and ASU's head coach Dirk Koetter will have to pull several bunnies from his deep and innovative bag of offensive tricks to keep the Cardinal team guessing on defense. Imagination and precise execution will be vital for success against a veteran Stanford team. While ASU had a poor showing on special teams in its season debut, Stanford excelled. Punt returner Luke Powell showcased his skills with a 42-yard punt return, and was part of a solid special team's effort that also blocked a punt in its first game of the 2001 season. The Cardinal's special teams did an outstanding job in giving the offense a short field to work with, while continually shifting momentum to its side. The Devils face a stiff challenge in this area to say the least.

While Stanford may have been battling fan apathy going into the season, their convincing win over Boston College should have some of their followers hop off from the fence and into their stadium. The Cardinal showed few flaws in their first game, and it will be up to ASU to exploit those handful of deficiencies and perhaps expose several new ones in order to notch their first Pac-10 win and first road win of this young season. The new coaching staff at ASU had ample time to further instill their schemes, and the team and its fans will anxiously wait to see how they will fair in what should be the most difficult test of the season and probably the toughest team the Devil will play in the next couple of weeks.

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