Sept. 8, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive tackle Will Sutton (90) celebrates after a win against Illinois. Arizona State won 45 to 14 against Illinois Fighting Illini at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

Oregon Ducks Football: Scouting Arizona State’s Defense


Not many people have been paying attention, but Arizona State’s quietly had a 5-1 season. They already have three wins in the conference, two of them have come on the road. No, the talent hasn’t been the best the Pac-12 has to offer, but the Sun Devils have suffocated the conference competition outscoring them 115-41.

A lot of it is thanks to their defense, who ranks right at the top in scoring, pass, and total defense in the conference. Has it just been the overall ease of their schedule? Let’s dive into the numbers and find out how Oregon matches up with them.

Defensive Breakdown

  • Passing: 1st in conference, 5th nationally
  • Rushing: 6th in conference, 39th nationally
  • Scoring: 1st in conference, 9th nationally

What defensive formation does Arizona State run?

Head coach Todd Graham has a hybrid formation that doesn’t stick to a standard set. You’ll see them in a 3-4 defense, sometimes switching to the 3-3-5, and others. What’s more important is watching the team’s biggest playmakers and how the line matches up with Oregon’s offensive line.

Who are those playmakers on defense?

There are three major players to watch: defensive tackle Will Sutton, defensive back Chris Young, and linebacker Carl Bradford.

  • Sutton: 39 tackles (25 solo), 13 TFL (leads team), 7.5 sacks (leads team)
  • Young: 41 tackles (24 solo), 10.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
  • Bradford: 31 tackles (21 solo), 9.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 3 passes broken up, 1 forced fumble

With 60 total TFL and 25 sacks as a unit, Marcus Mariota is going to face the most pressure he’s seen all season. Combine that with a loud crowd and Oregon’s first true road game, it’s going to be huge for the freshman quarterback to keep his composure.

How many turnovers has the defense forced?

Arizona State has a current turnover margin of +3, and it’s even greater at home with +6. Oregon hasn’t turned the ball over away from home, but again the only road game the Ducks have had was a neutral site game against Washington State. Considering there was a lively Ducks fanbase there, this is the only place that the offense will have to be efficient and avoid turning the ball over.

Where does Oregon match up the best against this defense?

By far, their bread and butter – the running attack. Kenjon Barner wasn’t stopped a season ago with 31 carries for 171 yards, and he’s only gotten better this year. It’s the biggest weakness the Sun Devils have – ranking sixth in the conference – and it’s the best way to ease Mariota into the treacherous crowd.

Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Autzen Zoo. See his banter with other FanSided writers and love for his favorite west coast professional teams by following him on Twitter.

Read his other work on the Iowa State blog, Clones Confidential, and Lacrosse the Web.

Tags: Arizona State Sun Devils Featured Football Oregon Ducks Popular

  • http://allducksallday.com/ allducksallday.com

    Keys to the Game:

    1. Mariota’s composure: How he is able to read ASU’s blitz packages, make good decisions with the ball, and handle the crowd noise will go a long way to deciding this game.

    2. Oregon’s third down defense: It is imperative we get ASU’s offense off the field and back to our offense. A couple of turnovers or timely sacks would be huge.

    3. Penalties: Oregon is one of the highest penalized teams in the country while the Sun Devils are one of the fewest. We can’t repeatedly shoot ourselves in the foot on the road.

    Prediction: Oregon 38 – ASU 24

    • Duck fan

      Prediction: Oregon 56,arizona 17

      • Nome Sain

        Oregon is not playing Arizona. It is ASU. Big distinction. Oregon won’t score 56 on these guys and they won’t hold the Devils to a mere 17.

        • http://allducksallday.com/ allducksallday.com

          They easily could have! lol. Looks like we all thought it would be a little bit of a better matchup..