Utah State Preview

Utah State's schedule thus far has been impressive, playing at Utah, Nebraska, and now ASU. That would be a tough stretch of games for any program, but the Aggies seem to play a similar schedule every year. Unfortunately, USU has not won either of their first two games, although they took a brief 7-6 lead on Nebraska in Lincoln before succumbing 31-7. DevilsDigest previews the Sun Devils' second opponent of the 2003 season.

Offense

The Aggies have a similar offensive philosophy to the Sun Devils – pass the ball early and often. Implementing this plan is junior quarterback Travis Cox. He started impressively in Lincoln, completing 15 of 19 passes before going ice cold and not connecting on any of his next 11 attempts.

Cox will look to three main targets through the air – senior tight end Chris Cooley and senior wide receivers Chris Stallworth and Kenny Coleman. Cooley is an extraordinary talent and many think he will be in the NFL next year. He will present a tough match-up for ASU's linebackers and safeties. Stallworth, at 6'3", will try to emulate NAU's 6'5" Clarence Moore's performance last week. The Devils' corners must do a better job managing Stallworth's height than they were able to against the ‘Jacks.

The Aggies' offensive line has three seniors, a junior, and a sophomore in the trenches. They will block for senior tailback David Fiefia (5'8", 200lbs). By most accounts, the running game will be used as a compliment to the passing game, with the goal of keeping defenses honest.

Defense

On defense USU uses a 3-4 alignment to emphasize its strength – the linebacker corps. The right tackle and the nose guard are both close to 300 lbs, but the left tackle is only 242 lbs. The lineman will hope to keep the Sun Devil offensive line off the linebackers, thereby allowing them to run to the ball and make plays.

The secondary features two players with Arizona ties – safeties Derrek Shank (Glendale) and Mike Rosecrans (Kingman). Rosecrans has made his dislike of the Devils clear, so it will be fun to watch whether his play can back up his mouth. The corners are experienced, with the left corner being a junior and the right corner being a sophomore.

Summary

Much like last week, look for ASU to try to establish the run against the 3-4 alignment from USU. If that happens, play action should allow Walter to put up strong numbers against a solid, but not spectacular, Aggie secondary. Defensively, the Devils will look for more intensity and a quicker tempo than last week's game against NAU. ASU will expect better pressure on the quarterback from the defensive line and will also look for better protection from the defensive backs.

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