Know Your Foe: ASU

Last Sunday night during premium chat, eDuck subscribers came up with several questions for DevilsDigest publisher Hod Rabino about Arizona State. Here are his responses:

How much is Cameron Marshall being asked about his younger brother Oregon's Byron Marshall?

Those interviews really only came out in the last couple of days. Obviously both brothers are pretty amped up for their first and what will be the only time they will face each other in college. If the coaching staff situation at ASU was more stable last year and if the team enjoyed the success everyone thought they would, I think there was a good chance that Byron would be a Sun Devil. The younger Marshall was very lucky that he had a good list of options to choose from and choosing Oregon was a good decision.

I know not much is expected from Byron Marshall this week as he backs up two of the best running backs in the Pac-12, but Cameron Marshall is one player I'm expecting to have a good game because I think the Sun Devils will try and pound the ball down the middle more often than trying to bounce outside and challenge Oregon's speed. Cameron has scored five touchdowns but has only rushed for 26 yards after six games. He would probably love nothing better than to have a breakout game on Thursday against his younger brother.

How deep is ASU especially on defense? Do the Sun Devils have enough depth to keep fresh bodies in against Oregon high tempo offense?

Excellent question and it brings up a valid point. On the one hand, while no one plays as fast as Oregon does, I feel that ASU is at least in the neighborhood when it comes to tempo. So I don't think the defense will be shell shocked. On the other hand, the defense is very thin at all positions so I think that will be a challenge. It's not uncommon even against slower teams for some of the ASU defenders to be on the field for 50 or 60 snaps. So the way I look at it, if Oregon puts up a lot of points it will more due to execution and less because of Sun Devil players being tired.

How is the ASU quarterback at reading coverages? How much experience does he have doing that?

Kelly is 3rd in the nation in passing efficiency and naturally some of that has to do with his ability to read defenses. Granted, as a first-year starter he is short on experience but with his performance thus far I just don't think you can bring up that as a factor any more, much like experience not being a factor with Oregon's Marcus Mariota. Kelly has a very cool demeanor in a very explosive offense and that combination has served him and the ASU offense for that matter very well.

Sutton is great, but does ASU have other strong DLinemen?

Will Sutton has been dominating all season long and is ranked 2nd in the nation in sacks and 5th in tackles for loss. His play has helped the players around him and vice versa. True freshman nose tackle Jaxon Hood plays a position that usually never puts up gaudy statistics but he has been one of the biggest surprises on defense ever since fall camp started. Junior Onyeali has been inconsistent but his six tackles for a loss thus far show that he can still be a significant part of the group. Davon Coleman is a versatile lineman and someone I would keep my eye on, aside from Sutton of course.

How many points do ASU fans think the Sun Devils will score? and the Ducks?

We know this game doesn't stand a chance of being a pitcher's duel, right? I think any team scoring even in the high 20's would be a shock. There is no reason not to expect a shootout. I expect ASU to score in the mid-30's and Oregon in the mid-40's, but would hardly be surprised if either squad eclipsed that number. This is no knock on what I think are two good defenses, but rather an indication of how potent both offenses are.

Who is the ASU surprise player of the season so far?

It may be the easy answer, but it has to be quarterback Taylor Kelly. While he had a strong finish to spring practice, he was regarded as third of the QB depth chart at that time. The staff initially didn't even want to give him equal reps to start fall camp and just make the signal caller battle a two-man race between Mike Bercovici and Michael Eubank. Yet the coaches' gut feeling, and probably in large part due to the aforementioned spring practice performance, told them to still give Kelly the equal number of reps he got in spring practice and the rest as they say is history.

Kelly was regarded as the proverbial game managing quarterback and a low risk/low reward signal caller that wouldn't put up spectacular numbers or wow you with his throws. Needless to say that this first-year starter below that theory out of the water so far.

How do you feel about ASU's staff in making second half adjustments?

The preparations and attention to detail from this staff has been light years ahead of the former staff and perhaps the biggest reason why this year's team, despite all the massive changes it went through is 5-1. So I'm very confident in this staff's coaching abilities prior to a game and during a contest. Regardless of what Thursday's halftime score will be, I don't expect the coaches to let their players get too high or too low and I think ASU's play in the second half should demonstrate that.

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