Players To Watch
#2 SR 6’2” 210-pound QB Mike Bercovici
2015 stats: 219 of 370 for 2473, 59.2%, 6.7 YPA, 19 TD, 8 INT, 128.0 RAT, 80 carries for 81 yards, 1.0 YPC, 34 long, 5 TD
Sneak Peak: There are few quarterbacks who spread the love as well as Mike Bercovici. He’s surrounded by playmakers and takes advantage of that, scoring more than two touchdowns per game through the air. He also can make a little noise with his feet. He has struggled with his completion percentage and is nearing double-digit interceptions, but he is a productive leader for the Sun Devil offense.
Husky Comparison: Jake Browning
#4 SO 5’10” 220-pound RB Demario Richard
2015 stats: 138 carries for 775 yards, 5.6 YPC, 61 long, 6 TD, 26 receptions for 265 yards, 10.2 YPC, 93 long, 3 TD
Sneak Peak: The stocky sophomore has led a solid Sun Devil rushing attack. His productivity out of the backfield has been an essential piece of ASU’s offense; he’s scored nine total touchdowns in eight games and he ranks fourth in the Pac-12 in all-purpose yards. Richards is a strong runner and an efficient source of offense.
Husky Comparison: Dwayne Washington
#12 SO 5’11” 185-pound WR/KR Tim White
2015 stats: 35 receptions for 441 yards, 12.6 YPC, 45 long, 6 TD, 2 carries for 69 yards, 34.5 YPC, 59 long
Sneak Peak: Shifty sophomore wideout Tim White’s six touchdowns ranks sixth in the conference and first on his team. He also averages nearly 30 yards per return, highlighted by a return for a touchdown against Utah. He is an explosive playmaker who can make a big impact in a short time period.
Husky Comparison: Because of his special teams impact, Dante Pettis
#15 SR 6’2” 195-pound WR Devin Lucien
2015 stats: 36 receptions for 477 yards, 13.3 YPC, 2 TD
Sneak Peak: After spending four years at UCLA and earning a degree, Devin Lucien transferred to Arizona State for his final year of eligibility. His 13.3 yards lead all Sun Devils with more than 20 receptions. He’s one of the many playmakers out wide for the Devils.
Husky Comparison: A shorter Brayden Lenius
#8 SR 6’0” 195-pound WR D.J. Foster
2015 stats: 45 receptions for 436 yards, 9.7 YPC, 33 long, 3 TD, 36 carries for 228 yards. 6.3 YPC, 63 long
Sneak Peak: D.J. Foster causes problems for defenses in a variety of ways. He’s tallied 208 receptions and 425 carries over his four years in Tempe; however this year is the first time he has more catches than rushing attempts. The Sun Devils find a variety of ways to get him the ball because he’s a multi-talented weapon and big play threat.
Husky Comparison: A bigger, more frequently used Chico McClatcher
#58 JR 6’0” 230-pound LB Salamo Fiso
2015 stats: 72 total tackles, 16.0 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 2 PD
Sneak Peak: Salamo Fiso leads the way for a Sun Devil defense that is fifth in the country in tackles for a loss. He picks up nearly two tackles for loss per game, while taking down opposing players eight times per contest. His impact will be felt most by Myles Gaskin, Dwayne Washington, and the rest of the Husky backfield.
Husky Comparison: Cory Littleton
#3 SO 6’0” 225-pound LB D.J. Calhoun
2015 stats: 20 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks
Sneak Peak: Although D.J. Calhoun doesn’t start he makes big contributions getting after the quarterback; his five-and-a-half sacks lead his team. Each one of his sacks have come in Pac-12 play. An important part in the Sun Devil pass rush, the Washington offensive line will be tasked with keeping Calhoun away form Jake Browning.
Husky Comparison: Travis Feeney
#38 SR 6’0” 195-pound DB Jordan Simone
2015 stats: 86 total tackles, 9.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks, 2 INT, 5 PD
Sneak Peak: The fifth year senior from Skyline’s path to success was a long one. After spending a season as a Washington State Cougar, Simone transferred to ASU. He spent his first year sitting out do to transfer regulations and had a limited role as a redshirt sophomore on the scout team. However, he led the Sun Devils in tackles as a junior. As a senior he’s had similar success, racking up over nine tackles per game. He makes his presence known all over the field, hitting ball carriers in the backfield, taking quarterbacks down for losses, and getting his hands in passing lanes. Simone is a handful for any defense he faces.
Husky Comparison: Budda Baker
#25 FR 5’11” 195-pound DB Kareem Orr
2015 stats: 19 total tackles, 0.5 TFL, 4 INT, 6 PD
Sneak Peak: It’s rare to get significant playing time as a true freshman. It’s even rarer to be tied at the top in interceptions as a true freshman. Kareem Orr’s locked up with Utah’s Marcus Williams at four picks for the league lead. For a defense that struggles to force turnovers, Orr has been a bright spot.
Husky Comparison: Sidney Jones
What the Sun Devil offense looks like
The Sun Devils are deep offensively. They have a surplus of playmakers in the backfield and out wide. Four ASU receivers have more than 300 yards receiving, and six Sun Devils have 20 or more receptions. While Demario Richard has gotten the majority of the carries at running back, both he and Kalen Ballage are averaging more than 10 carries per game. Their offense is as spread as their production, giving room their athletes to make plays. With a near 50/50 split of pass and run plays the Sun Devils offense can hurt defenses in many ways, shown by their 31.4 points scored per game. Stopping the Sun Devils is made easier by forcing turnovers. Arizona State ranks last in the conference in turnover margin. Otherwise, this is a potent group.
What the Sun Devil defense looks like
This is one of the most aggressive defenses you’ll find. As Chris Petersen said in his press conference Monday it could be third-and-15 and the Sun Devils would more likely send the house than sit back and defend. Their aggressive style is often times fruitful; ASU is fourth in the country in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss. However, the Sun Devils allow more than 30 points and 400 yards per game. This can be credited to their trouble on third down and inability to force turnovers; only three PAC-12 teams have forced fewer turnovers than ASU. Also, their aggressive style yields explosive plays. Take Kani Benoit of Oregon’s 62-yard scamper, for example. This defense can cause problems for opposing offenses, however they still struggle to translate their sack success into holding teams down defensively.
Keys to the game
- Get after Jake Browning: Here’s a strength against a weakness. If the Sun Devils can get Jake Browning uncomfortable it could be a long night for the Husky offense.
- Take care of the football: The Sun Devils’ minus-6 turnover margin is the worst in the conference. It’s the biggest limiter to an offense with explosive potential. Protecting the football will be essential for their success this weekend.
- Play like your life (season) depends on it: The Sun Devils need to win two more games to qualify for a bowl game. After Washington they draw Arizona and Cal. A loss to Washington would make the postseason seem ever more distant. Players are coached to treat every game the same, but a little extra motivation couldn’t hurt.
- Hold on to the ball: Turnovers were lethal in the Huskies’ losses to Cal and Utah. With an offense that seems to be taking steps forward, holding onto the football could lead to some impressive offensive output.
- Get separation: Against a defense that is aggressive and willing to blitz, it is essential for receivers to get open so their quarterback can get the ball to them quickly. This will be key for the Huskies to move the ball and keep Jake Browning’s jersey clean.
- Run the ball well: Dwayne Washington and Myles Gaskin have been nice compliments the past few weeks. More production from those two could jump start the Husky offense on the road.