INSIDE: Q&A on Arizona State, Part II

ARIZONA STATE WAS solid defensively for much of the season but in the last two games on average has allowed close to 500 yards and 45 points per. The reasons behind it and if the Beavers are apt to face a different set of circumstances, plus more, in Part II of our Q&A with the guy who has his finger on the pulse of the Sun Devils -- Hod Rabino, the publisher of


BF.C: ASU was solid defensively in the first half of the season, and then in the last two games has surrendered an average of 44 points and 470 yards a game. What went wrong in those two games?

Rabino: Not to sound like a broken record but Will Sutton and Junior Onyeali being unavailable in those contests is something that the defensive line couldn't compensate for -- and that trickled down to the rest of the defense. Obviously you have factors such as an Oregon team which causes defenses to miss their assignments and a UCLA squad that all year has been able to run the ball at will. However, we know how well this defense has played prior to the last two weeks so it's hard not to point to Sutton's and Onyeali's health as being a significant factor in that decline.


BF.C: The weather forecast at kickoff is calling for temperatures in the 40s and rain. Do you see that as a factor or non-factor for ASU players?

Rabino: With an offense that wants to run the ball often and has a passing game that seldom ventures downfield, I don't think the weather should affect them as much as one would think. Graham is very big on mental toughness and handling adversity and if his players follow his lead on that aspect the elements shouldn't adversely impact them.


BF.C: Coach Todd Graham is seen by the media as running a tighter ship than did Dennis Erickson – how has that gone over with the players?

Rabino: Obviously not all the players have initially bought in and you had the normal attrition you would expect with a new staff. But the majority of the team was able to successfully adapt to the new culture and Sun Devil fans are seeing some players such as cornerback Deveron Carr and safety Keelan Johnson play at a much higher level than they ever have at ASU. Even though the last two games were losses, players and fans alike can see the progress that has been made from last year, so they know that the "Todd Graham Way" does work.


BF.C: How is recruiting going for the Sun Devils so far this year?

Rabino: Having a first-year coaching staff and having a recruiting class that is ranked in the low 30's going into November isn't a bad place to be in. ASU was able to secure the services of a quarterback, Josh Dobbs, who later make the final Elite 11 list. It also got a pledge from one of the best local prospects in linebacker Chans Cox. They have been doing very well in the state of Texas due to their staff's connections. On the other hand, their overall recruiting of the state of Arizona hasn't been all that impressive and Southern California is another region where quality commits have been hard to come by for the Sun Devils.


BF.C: Complete the sentences: ASU will win if ____. ASU will lose if____.

Rabino: If Sutton and Onyeali play for ASU I feel as if this defense can play at the level they did before these two recent losses and that should help the cause for a road win. If they don't play I can see the ASU defense having the same issues they had the last two weeks and that can spell a long night in Corvallis.

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