Will Beavs beat the (constant) ASU blitz?

ARIZONA STATE LOVES to blitz. Head coach Todd Graham can’t seem to get enough of it. Even when Notre Dame started burning No. 7 ASU, bottling up their blitzes and mounting a stirring comeback, ASU just kept right on blitzing anyway. If Oregon State is going to best ASU on Saturday night (ESPN 7:45 p.m.) they’ll need a game plan that will hold up to that pressure -- all night long.

I’d estimate ASU blitzed 75 percent of the time against Notre Dame and no, that’s not a typo. And that they’re going to do the same or close to it against the Beavs. And if OSU should burn them, I don’t think ASU is going to adjust.

The blitz leaves you susceptible to so many big plays but opposing defenses haven’t made ASU (8-1) pay for it nearly enough.

Notre Dame clogged it up in the third quarter and started slicing ASU up, turning a 34-3 deficit into a 34-31 game. But ASU scored 14 unanswered to end the game and ASU’s blitzing success and failures were relegated to background noise.

So what does Oregon State need to do?

They have to get rid of the ball faster, and that’s not their forte.

But Oregon State can still run a lot of max-protect and keep their three tights in and that can actually help. Sean Mannion will only have two targets and won’t have to go through a lot of reads.

And OSU can still run their normal tight end sets – ASU’s d-ends will go wider and further away from the QB. That will allow the o-tackles to handle them and it leaves the tight end to handle the corner blitz, which ASU loves.

And when OSU isn’t in max-protect, they can look to the crossing routes. Notre Dame missed that opportunity. You can run the verticals, fine, but the crossing routes will be there all day against ASU’s blitzes and man coverage.

Apart from the crossing routes, OSU’s receiver success depends on what ASU does.

What shade is the corner is giving, is it inside or outside, what depth are the safeties and linebackers, whether they’re in Cover-2, quarters, 3-1, etc. How often are they running press – and when the corner turns will he do so with his to the inside or outside? All of that and a whole lot more will determine much of what OSU does offensively and if it is effective on a consistent enough basis.

I’m also of the opinion the weather will play a role. The forecast has changed significantly from earlier in the week. There is no longer a 70 percent chance of rain, there’s a near-zero chance with the polar vortex dropping down from the Arctic.

Rain would have been good. But it’s not too bad of a tradeoff. The temperature at kickoff is forecast to be 30 degrees. By the end of the game, the mercury should be at about 26.

Playing in cold weather is only a big deal if you let it be mentally. ASU has not always had the strongest record in that regard. We’ll see how they react this time.


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