Arizona State Offensive Preview

Arizona State may be a little inconsistent, but there is still some offensive talent. Read on for a closer look at ASU's offense.

Arizona travels to Tempe on Saturday to take on arch-rival Arizona State in a game that serves as nothing more than bragging rights from the Wildcats' perspective. UA has had a rough season, but has a chance to be a thorn in the Sun Devils' side this weekend.

It will be far from easy for UA though, as the Wildcats face the number three scoring offense in the Pac-12 in its home stadium. ASU currently averages 34.2 points per contest, which ranks the Sun Devils behind only Oregon and Stanford in the conference.

Arizona State poses one of the more deadly passing attacks in the conference, led by quarterback Brock Osweiler. Through 10 games, the junior quarterback is leading his unit to 297.1 passing yards per game. Osweiler has been a much more efficient passer this year, completing 64.8 percent of his attempts for 2890 yards and 20 touchdowns. The Sun Devils' signal-caller has also done a solid job of taking care of the football as he has only thrown eight interceptions in 10 games.

Osweiler has done a solid job of spreading the ball around to his weapons. Senior Gerell Robinson has caught 50 passes for 901 yards and five touchdowns. Robinson has really turned it on over the past five games, collecting at least 100 yards receiving in four of them.

Shifty senior wideout Aaron Pflugrad has been able to make his mark this season in the passing game as well. He has caught 35 passes for 510 yards and four touchdowns. Pflugrad's impact over the past five games hasn't been as prevalent as it was over the first five, but he is certainly someone that can create problems for the Arizona secondary.

Senior Mike Willie has also been a consistent performer for the ASU passing attack. The 6-foot-4 receiver has collected 31 receptions for 418 yards and three touchdowns. His size and build gives Osweiler another big target to utilize all over the field and will be a difficult matchup for the Wildcats on Saturday.

Jamal Miles leads the team in touchdown receptions with six and is a player that can be utilized in both the running and passing games. The junior is second on the team in receptions with 48, but his 6.3 yards-per-catch average has only netted him 303 yards through the air.

Running back Cameron Marshall is someone Osweiler likes to utilize every now and then in the passing attack. Marshall has caught 19 passes for 162 yards from the backfield.

Arizona State could also involve other wide receivers such as George Bell, Kevin Ozier, A.J. Pickens and Kyle Middlebrooks in the passing attack this weekend.

As for ASU's rushing attack, it's been mediocre as an overall unit, but is led by one of the Pac-12's better running backs. Marshall leads the conference with 14 rushing touchdowns and ranks sixth with 837 yards on the ground. Marshall's rushing average only places him 19th in the conference, but his ability to find the end zone makes him a dangerous weapon against a defense that has had difficulty stopping the run for the majority of the year.

Outside of Marshall, Arizona State doesn't have a running back that has provided consistent production out of the backfield. The second leading rusher has been Miles with 195 yards on the ground this season. Third is Osweiler, who has 125 yards rushing and just a 1.8 average and fourth is Middlebrooks – another receiver – with 120 yards on the ground and only a 3.2 yards-per-attempt average.

The Sun Devils' offensive line hasn't necessarily been their strength either. The unit has allowed the fifth most sacks allowed in the Pac-12 with 22 and has paved the way for a rushing average of just a shade under 4.1 yards per carry – good for seventh in the conference. It's not a terrible unit by any stretch of the imagination, but it's certainly very beatable.

Five Keys

Stop Marshall: ASU doesn't have a viable backup in its running game, so if the Wildcats can limit Marshall then it could eliminate the Sun Devils' rushing attack altogether.

Bring the heat: The Sun Devils' line has struggled in spurts throughout the season. If Arizona continuously attacks that group throughout the contest, it's bound to make several mistakes.

Limit big plays: Arizona State ranks only second to the Wildcats in plays of 10 yards or more this season. Osweiler has developed a knack for making big throws at opportune moments at various parts of the season and UA must reduce the number of times he is successful in doing so this weekend.

Don't let Osweiler open the field: The ASU senior quarterback likes to spread the ball around to his weapons. If the Arizona defense can reduce the number of players involved in the passing game, it will prevent the Sun Devils offense from producing at their maximum capabilities.

Force turnovers: Forcing turnovers may seem to be a pretty obvious necessity for the Wildcats, but it won't be easy to do against Arizona State – a team that has only committed 14 of them this season. If the Wildcats can make ASU to cough the ball up, it will put their rivals in unfamiliar territory.

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