The hungry Wolf Pack will make their way to desert to face a powerful offense and a revamped defense, as ASU faces Nevada on Saturday with a 7 pm kickoff at Sun Devil Stadium. The Devils are trying to bounce back from a less than impressive offensive performance against NAU in which they won 35-14. The offense, which saw four different running backs score touchdowns, worked well enough to beat NAU but some worry Nevada will be a different story.
Nevada, coming off a 28-19 loss to Fresno State this past Saturday is led by quarterback Jeff Rowe. Rowe was only sacked one time against Fresno State. Sacking the quarterback is something ASU has finally found success in. The Devils lead the nation with nine sacks. A major part of this new defense is Derron Ware. Ware, a Michigan State transfer was originally a safety but has found success at the linebacker position following Coach Bill Miller's suggestion. Ware is ranked second in the nation in both sacks (three) and tackles for loss (four). "Our defense didn't know we were going to blitz NAU as much as we did but since they couldn't stop our blitz, Bill [Miller, ASU's defensive coordinator] kept calling it," said Coach Dirk Koetter. ASU will once again look to Ware and the rest of the Sun Devil defense to stay on track and try to stop Nevada's "pistol" offense.
On the offense side of the ball ASU was good…but not great. The Devils offense was led by sophomore Rudy Carpenter who was 17-of-24 with one interception and threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns. Running backs Ryan Torain, Dimitri Nance, Shaun DeWitty and Keegan Herring all scored touchdowns for ASU. Head Coach Dirk Koetter has this to say about the run game, "As the game wore on we ran the ball better and better. We used four tailbacks. I purposely tried to spread the carries out. I could have had one guy carry it 28 times for 150 yards but those running backs take a pounding. We are going to need all four of those backs over the course of the season." The Devils also need a good offensive showing against Nevada to sooth any rouge thoughts about the lack of firepower in the Sun Devil offense.
Another key aspect to last Thursday's win against NAU was the student section at Sun Devil Stadium. Viewers watching on TV were treated to a special sight not seen since USC last year, when the entire student section was sold out. The ASU Athletic Department reports that over 9,000 student tickets were sold but anyone watching at home or in the stadium could tell there was well over that amount at the game.
The student section was pumped up from opening kickoff and well into the opening drive. As ASU started to sputter offensively the students got a bit annoyed. For many this was this their first time at an ASU football game. Most everyone had heard about the high-powered offense and to see them struggle against NAU caused many in the stands to become rowdy. The key to a strong student section is to stay supportive and loud throughout the whole game. A student section that turns on their team will not motivate the players on the field when the players need it the most.
Last week's NAU game also saw the emergence of a new and improved "Hell Hogs" student group. The "Hell Hogs" are now an official student group on campus and what started as a small group of guys enjoying ASU football has now turned into something much larger. With membership roughly around 40 people, the "Hell Hogs" are leading a student section to become more supportive and loud in its efforts to make Sun Devil Stadium one of the loudest student sections in the country. To keep this going, the amount of students who showed up to NAU, now need to show up against Nevada.
If you are a "Hell Hog", an alumnus, a freshman or a senior citizen come out on Saturday and help make Sun Devil Stadium a hostile environment for the Wolf Pack. Stay supportive through the entire game and cheer for a Sun Devil win. Go Devils!
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