Arizona State Offensive Preview

Arizona will have to contain a balanced offense when it faces Arizona State on Saturday. Read on for a complete look at the Sun Devils' offense.

Arizona will face a potent offense in Arizona State, although the major question surrounding that offense is the status of running back Marion Grice.

Sources say Grice is extremely unlikely to play on Saturday and it will be interesting to see just how much it affects what Arizona State does offensively.

Junior quarterback Taylor Kelly is the key component of the offense and the 6-foot-2, 203-pound signal caller has put together a strong, consistent season.

Kelly has thrown for over 3,000 yards with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He has been good for a pick in all but three games, but has also put together some of his best efforts against the better teams on the schedule.

What makes Kelly even more dangerous is that he can run and with Grice likely being out, the chances are high that he will run more than usual. Kelly has not shown consistency on the ground, but did put together a 79-yard effort against USC, 84 against Washington, 66 against Washington State, and 99 at UCLA.

Figuring that Grice is out, junior Deantre Lewis is the most likely to get carries with D.J. Foster backing him up and getting his share as well. Lewis has not done a lot this season with 49 carries, but is averaging 5.5 yards per game. The talent and potential is there, but it is just hard to know what the Sun Devils will get out of him.

Foster is in a similar boat, as he only has 42 runs, but is averaging 4.4 yards per attempt. Foster's real strength is as a receiver, where he is second on the team with 52 catches for 524 yards and three touchdowns. When Foster is lined up in the backfield, he is a threat in the passing game and Arizona will have to keep an eye on him in the flat.

The real strength of the ASU receivers is Jaelen Strong, who has proven he is one of the best receivers in the conference. Strong has 65 catches for 925 yards and six touchdowns. Strong was a little hobbled in the latter part of October and early November, so there were some struggles.

However, he went for over 100 yards against Wisconsin, Stanford, USC, Notre Dame, Colorado, and Oregon State. Strong is going to be a difficult matchup for Arizona and his momentum is a big part of that offense.

Grice is actually the third-leading receiver on the team, but again, his absence is going to be a big one. It would not be a surprise to see tight end Chris Coyle get some more passes thrown his way, especially with Arizona's defense being susceptible to tight ends at times.

Coyle has 26 receptions for 385 yards and four touchdowns, but his biggest issue is consistency. For instance, he went for 85 yards against USC and 78 against Washington, but only five against Oregon State and 15 at UCLA.

Players to Watch:

#87, TE Chris Coyle: We highlighted it above, but Coyle is dangerous for Arizona. Often times, the middle of the field will be left open and that would obviously be a problem in this contest. Keep an eye on Coyle to see if Todd Graham and company try to get him more involved.

#25, RB Deantre Lewis: With Grice likely out, Lewis is going to get more opportunities than he has all season. He does have a fumbling issue that Arizona will try to exploit, but there is talent there that the Wildcats need to respect.

#3, WR Richard Smith: Smith's numbers are not great, but he is a capable receiver. His highs are 79 yards against Washington State and seven catches against Oregon State. With Grice out and this being a rivalry game, somebody that is not expected to step up likely will.

Keys to the Game:

1. Contain the run: If Grice is not going to play, the Sun Devils' run game should be less effective. Arizona needs to make sure it is containing the run and making ASU as one-dimensional as possible.

2. Don't extend drive: You never want to give the opposition a penalty to keep a drive going, especially in a rivalry game on the road. The Wildcats did a good job of playing disciplined football against Oregon and needs to do the same against ASU.

3. Control emotions: If Arizona comes out with too much emotion, it is likely going to lead to penalties and missed tackles. Arizona needs to turn that emotion into something positive instead of it being negatively affecting the outcome.


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