Know Your Foe- Arizona State

The writers of Devils Digest answer your questions on Arizona State...

Which players for Utah are ASU fans most worried about?

RB John White and WR Devonte Christopher on defense. Both defensive tackles, Dave Kruger and Star Lotulelei, LB's Chaz Walker and Brian Belechen on defense.

In terms of recruiting, what percentage of head-to-head recruiting battles do you expect ASU to win over Utah (Eubank, Pedroza, etc)?

I would expect ASU to win 70-75 percent of those battles. I don't think this percentage is as much as of a reflection on Utah's stature but rather of what ASU can offer as program in a desirable location and will a solid academic reputation.

Regarding opposing stadiums, how would you rank Rice Eccles Stadium compared to other Pac-12 stadiums?

Well, ASU hasn't played at Utah since 1977, so in some ways it's hard to really compare Rice Eccles Stadium to other league venues. It does appear to be a compact stadium with an above average loud crowd. ASU has piped in crowd noise in this week's practices and will be using a silent count on offense, so the Sun Devils are certainly expecting a fairly boisterous environment to say the least.

Which player matchups do ASU fans feel most confident in?

Cornerback Deveron Carr versus WR DeVonte Christopher will be a very good matchup, but I think that with an inexperienced Utah quarterback in Jon Hays the Utes' passing game will suffer and Carr could have the upper hand.

Utah's passing defense is definitely not one of their strong suits so I expect ASU WR Gerell Robinson to have a big game against cornerback Ryan Lacy.

Where does ASU feel like they can hurt us? Through the air, or on the ground?

As I mentioned I think that if the Sun Devils win most of the damage done will be through the air. With two offensive line starters out of this week and facing a mammoth Utah defensive line, it will be hard for ASU to have consistent success on the ground and I feel as if Utah's front seven will force the Sun Devils to throw the ball more as it is. The passing offense is looking to redeem itself after a horrible display last week and I think the game at Utah can help then do just that.

Do you think with Wynn being down, that ASU is starting to overlook Utah and prepare more for Oregon?

That's the million dollar question in Tempe. ASU's games against Illinois and Oregon State definitely had the "overlook factor" attached to it and coincidently or not those contests were two of the worst performances by the Sun Devils this year. Now facing a backup quarterback for a Utah team that is getting its baptism by fire in the Pac-12 you wonder if ASU can put that aside. Is ASU licking their chops for this week's game? Probably. They know a win on Saturday makes their path to the Pac-12 South crown that much easier. Having said that, I would hope this attitude doesn't result in another lackadaisical performance.

Are there any playmakers for ASU that the Utes should watch out for on both offense and defense?

On offense running backs Jamal Miles and Cameron Marshall, as well as wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad. On defense, defensive end Jamaar Jarrett, linebacker Vontaze Burfict, safety Eddie Elder and cornerbacks Deveron Carr and Alden Darby.

What's the feeling from the fans as far as the trajectory of the program? Are they now the class of the Pac 12 South and, if so, what's it going to take to stay there?

There were high expectations for the Sun Devil program this year and suffice to say that sitting at a 4-1 record gives the ASU fans confidence that this team can deliver on its promise and more importantly help preserve what has been a great recruiting class that should be a solid building block for the future.

Granted, we are only one third of the season in but when you look at all the results thus far posted by the Pac-12 South members, I think you could call ASU the class of the Pac-12 South. Even with all the key injuries they have incurred ASU still has a great chance at a solid campaign that should result in the division championship.

If ASU had not suffered the preseason and in season injuries that have hit them this year, would they be on par with Oregon and Stanford in the conference?

I believe so. ASU is having a very good year and doing so without their best linebacker, their best corner, one of their best wide receivers, one of their best running backs and recently without their best offensive lineman and best defensive end. I'm not even mentioning some key reserves that have also been sidelined.

If the lion share of those players were healthy, I would gladly take my chances against Oregon or Stanford, home or away.

What's the ceiling for Osweiler? What are his strengths and weaknesses?

Even as a junior Osweiler is fairly inexperienced. He has only seven starts under his belt and still a lot you learn. But his potential is undeniable and not to get too ahead but next season I'm expecting him to be the best quarterback in the Pac-12 and a signal caller who will make some noise nationally.

Osweiler excels in his leadership and composure, and he has had to resort to those traits on several occasions because of the inconsistency of the offense. He has good mechanics and is deceptively mobile for a 6-8 quarterback. I think he could do better going through his progressions and avoiding throws where he tries to force the issue.

Is the staff, or are the fans bothered by ASU's reputation as the school that players go to when they can't get into USC, Cal, UCLA, and Stanford? What's a realistic view on ASU academics as opposed to the reputation they carry?

Not to sound defensive, but every school in the Pac-12 can be characterized as the school that can attract players who can't get into Stanford or UCLA. Not sure I would put Cal and USC in that same category though. I think ASU's academic reputation is underrated. In the latest (and for that matter the last) Pac-10 Academic Progress Rates report ASU was ranked second in the league: ASU does a great job graduating their student-athletes and their academic support is one of the biggest recruiting tools it has successfully used over the years. It may have been easier in the past for other conference schools to spew out the tired party school line associated with ASU. Now a days with the academic achievements realized with the school, that idea can be easily shot down.

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