Scouting Report: ASU

The Wildcats and the Sun Devils renew their rivalry with another "Duel in the Desert". The Cats come into this game with hopes of erasing a disappointing season, while the Devils want to get back on track after a late season sputter.

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7-5 (4-3)
Friday, November 29th 1:00 MST
Fox Sports Net

LAST GAME: Arizona came into Tempe and left with a 34-21 win. An ugly post-game brawl marred an otherwise hard-fought game.

LAST TIME OUT: Arizona finally got off the snide with a 52-41 win over Cal. It snapped a six game losing streak. ASU ran into the buzzsaw that is USC and fell 43-13 to the red-hot Trojans.

The Sun Devils like to stretch the field and are pretty darn good at it. Andrew Walter emerged as the guy in the San Diego State game and hasn't cooled off yet. The sophomore has passed for over 3,200 yards and 26 touchdowns. He has one of the strongest arms in the Pac-10 and that allows him to make plays that other quarterbacks can't make. Occasionally he tries to do too much and that has led to 12 interceptions.

His favorite target is Shaun McDonald who is one of the nation's top receivers. The diminutive McDonald may not fit the big receiver mold but he makes that up with big plays. He has developed into the top big play threat in the Pac-10 as his 13 touchdowns signifies.

After McDonald there is a drop-off in talent, but despite not having a second star, the Devils are loaded with a number of solid, dependable receivers. In addition to McDonald eight other ASU receivers have double figure receptions. Daryl Lightfoot leads the way with 35 catches and a pair of scores.

As good as the passing game has been, the running game has struggled. Injuries and the lack of a true go-to back has hurt the Sun Devils. Injuries have hurt the unit as Cornell Canidate, Mike Williams and Hakim Hill have split the bulk of the carries. It looks as if Canidate will get the start against his brother's alma mater.

Arizona needs to pass the ball to be effective. So far this season Arizona has been very effective when they can give Jason Johnson some time to throw. Unfortunately, pass protection has been having a lot of troubles keeping their passer upright. To make maters worse, the Cats are facing the best pass rusher in college football in Terrell Suggs.

Expect the Cats to do everything they can to slow down Suggs. Double teams, extra blocking backs and changing schemes could all be employed to keep Suggs away from Johnson.

The pressure on Johnson increases because the Wildcats just cannot get the run game going. The Wildcats have run for just 43 TOTAL yards in the last seven games. The Wildcats will try to run the ball, but they know they must pass the ball to score.

OUTLOOK: This one looks like a much better game that it was a month ago. The Wildcats seem to have put some of their problems behind them in their win over Cal. The Devils were one of the surprise teams in the nation starting the season 7-2 before a three-game losing streak has brought them back down to earth. The Wildcats much protect Johnson if they want to win. If Arizona can give Johnson time, this could be a shoot-out. If Suggs and co. can get to Johnson on a regular basis, then it could be a long day. This one should have a ton of offensive fireworks and it could come down to the fourth quarter. This could be another classic in the series.

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