USA Today Sports/Kirby Lee

The Early Glimpse: Washington State vs. Arizona State

ARIZONA STATE’S precarious health at quarterback has dominated conversation in the desert the last couple of weeks, but following the 40-16 beat down Colorado put on the Devils Saturday the hand-wringing has turned to the ground game.

More specifically, the disappearance of a ground attack that was firing on all cylinders to start the season but is averaging just 68 yards per game over its last three. Running backs Kalen Barrage and Demario Richard each came into the 2016 campaign envisioning 1,000-plus-yard rushing seasons but at the current pace neither will get there.

As for the quarterback situation, third-year sophomore starter Manny Wilkins returned to action against Colorado after going down with a high ankle sprain against USC two weeks ago and missing the UCLA game last week. He looked less than his mobile self against the Buffs but insisted afterward that he was 100 percent. Devils coach Todd Graham put the number closer to 85 or 90 percent.

  • KICKOFF: 7 pm Pacific in Tempe
  • TELEVISION: Pac-12 Networks
  • THE LINE: Cougs by 7
  • THE RECORDS: Cougs 4-2 (3-0); Devils 5-2 (2-2)
  • AP RANKINGS: Cougs 29th, Devils 34th

The Devils have had a devil of a time with QB injuries this season. Bryce Perkins, expected to challenge Wilkins for the starting role, went down with a season-ending neck injury in fall camp and Wilkins’ backup, Brady White, went down for the season with a foot injury last week against UCLA.

Touted true freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole is the new backup after Graham burned his redshirt with several snaps against the Bruins. The Devils are looking at a receiver and defensive back as emergency backups, according to the Arizona Republic.

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THE DEVILS’ SEASON: Wins over Northern Arizona, Texas Tech, UT-San Antonio, Cal and UCLA. Losses to USC and Colorado by a combined score of 81-26.

Graham normally rolls out blitz-happy defenses, but with a young secondary he's cut way back on blitzing -- less than 30 percent of the time -- to take pressure off the youngsters. That's down from 49 percent last season, according to Pro Football Focus.

LAST SEASON: The Cougars fell behind early, 14-0, but rallied late, with 3 TDs in the fourth quarter, to win 38-24 in Pullman. Luke Falk passed for 497 yards and 5 TDs — two of them to Dom Williams. The victory secured bowl eligibility for WSU.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: The Cougars rank No. 18 nationally in total offense (501.5 yards per game) while ASU is No. 76 (401.1). In total defense, the Cougs are No. 54 in the nation (giving up 382.7 per game) and ASU is sixth from the bottom, at No. 123 (surrendering 506 yards per game).

Luke Falk ranks No. 5 in the country in passing yards per game (352.2).

ASU kicker Zane Gonzalez is the all-time NCAA leader in field goals made with 92 in his career, including three from between 50 and 59 yards against Colorado. 

FAMILIAR FACES: For the second week in a row, the Cougs face an opponent with nary a player on the roster from the state of Washington. With defensive coordinator Chris Ball’s departure to Memphis over the offseason, the ASU coaching staff has no one with a Cougar connection. Ball, who spent four years at ASU, had three different stints at WSU over the years.



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