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.
- 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.