Struggling ASU team looking for improvement away from home

An Arizona State team that is 1-2 in road games this season is anticipating another loud environment in Eugene, Oregon this weekend.

Road games have not been kind to Arizona State this season, as the Sun Devils have been outscored 109-68 in three contests away from Sun Devil Stadium this season.

Outside of a 32-28 victory over Texas-San Antonio in September, the Sun Devils haven't mounted a serious challenge in their other two road competitions.

Each of the conference road games ASU has played in this season have resulted in blowout losses, with the Sun Devils falling 41-20 at USC on Oct. 1 before losing to Colorado 40-16 on Oct. 15. This weekend, the Sun Devils to Eugene, Oregon to take on a Ducks squad that has lost four straight conference games to begin the year, but ASU head coach Todd Graham knows the environment at Autzen Stadium isn't one the Sun Devils can take lightly.

"Nice day outside, our offense went inside for a little bit to work some crowd noise, obviously we know this will probably be the loudest place we'll play," Graham said. "Preparing for that and had a great attitude today, a great spirit in practice and I was really pleased with how things went."

After starting the season 2-3, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich made a quarterback change, replacing graduate senior transfer Dakota Prukop with true freshman Justin Herbert.

Herbert's first career start resulted in a 70-21 loss against Washington, but the Oregon native rebounded with a much stronger effort in a 52-49 loss against Cal on Friday evening.

"Really impressed, very impressed, he's (Herbert) got great arm talent," Graham said. He can run and extend plays really well, he's very mature for a young quarterback, so I think he's the guy, I've been very impressed with him."

Though the Ducks have lost five in a row dating back to a nonconference loss against Nebraska, three of the five losses Oregon has suffered have come by a combined nine points.

After falling behind 34-14 midway through the third quarter in Friday's matchup with Cal, the Ducks came storming back to force overtime before a Herbert interception gave the Bears the victory.

"People have jumped out on them and they've come roaring back in every game," Graham said. "They've got a lot of heart on them as a team so it's going to be, this is a deal, it's two, they obviously have lost quite a few straight in a row which is uncharacteristic of their team but they've been in those games. It's been, they've come down to the wire. Colorado they've come down to the wire, Cal, they've had some misfortune too as far as injuries and things like that."

Saturday's contest at Oregon represents one of the best chance ASU has to become bowl-eligible this season. After starting 5-1, the Sun Devils have dropped two straight contests and now face the Ducks before matching up with back-to-back ranked opponents, Utah and Washington.

While ASU ends its season against in-state rival Arizona which remains winless in conference play, there's no guarantees a Sun Devils' team already missing key players due to injuries would enter the final week of the regular season at or near full strength. 

"I just think every week is a new week, you know, obviously what would help us more than anything is to get some guys healed up and we're hoping that as the week goes on we'll get some guys back, but we'll see how that goes," Graham said. "Today is just the first day to let, we had a great mental day with the guys that have had issues, and working on guys as replacements."

At a Monday press conference, Graham said the Sun Devils hoped to have starters like sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins, senior wide receiver Tim White, sophomore left guard Sam Jones and junior center A.J. McCollum healthy for Saturday's game, but none of those players participated in team warmups at Tuesday's practice and Graham did not provide updates on any of ASU's injuries after practice.

"No change on any of the injuries or whatever," Graham said.

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