Ask the Expert Q&A: Arizona State

Arizona State has been inconsistent this season. Why is that? We asked SunDevilSource's Chris Karpman that and more. Much has been made about Jordan Simone’s injury this week. What kind of impact will that have on Saturday?

SunDevilSource: It's hard to say because even though Simone played perhaps his best game of the season a week earlier against Washington State, ASU unexpectedly had a better overall defensive performance against Washington in the second half after he was knocked out of the game.

With three backups on the field, the Sun Devils didn't give up any points to Washington after halftime en route to a 27-17 victory. Considering he's the leading solo tackler in the Pac-12, one would naturally think the Sun Devils would be degraded in the secondary without Simone. This is almost certainly true from a leadership and communication standpoint, and probably against the run, which is Simone's strength.

From an overall range and coverage standpoint, there probably won't be much drop off, if any. An equally significant injury is junior Spur Laiu Moeakiola, who was knocked out against Washington with a shoulder injury, something he's battled since last season. He'll probably try to play but won't be 100 percent and ASU's at times really struggled without him on the field.

Sophomore Marcus Ball played well in replace of Moeakiola last week but whether that would again be the case if he had to do so against Arizona is unclear. Ball's impressive performance was somewhat of a surprise given his lack of reps in practice.  Should Anu Solomon not play, Jerrard Randall will see snaps. Has ASU faced a mobile quarterback this season and how has it done?

SunDevilSource: ASU did face a limited amount of Kyler Murray from Texas A&M in its opener and that would probably be a somewhat comparable threat from an athletic standpoint. Murray had some runs against ASU but didn't play a lot so it was tough to gauge what his success would have been like in more action.

No other quarterback ASU has played has been remotely as athletic as Randall and it's a legitimate concern for the Sun Devils, especially how aggressively they blitz and the possibility for huge plays when Randall is able to step up and through -- or around -- that pressure.

Todd Graham is going to be very aggressive in an effort to try to not let Randall out-flank his defense, but there will likely be some breakdowns. How many could determine Arizona's overall offensive success. ASU’s pass defense has been inconsistent. What is the biggest reason?

SunDevilSource: It's really a combination of a few main reasons. ASU doesn't generate enough pressure with four rushers to keep Todd Graham from blitzing on a majority of downs. That means the Sun Devils have less safety help behind plays when someone is beaten or out of place. It also means more man coverage across the field and big play potential as a result.

ASU generates a lot of sacks and tackles for loss but trades that for more big plays given up than other teams. This year, it's been more than in the past and a big reason is the departure of first-round NFL pick and all-Pac-12 player Damarious Randall from field safety and the season-ending injury suffered early in the season by his replacement, sophomore Armand Perry.

True freshman Kareem Orr has been in that role since the start of Pac-12 play, and is learning on the job. He's going to be very good, but isn't there yet and is vulnerable to being attacked. 

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