ASU Football: Graham discusses winning on the road

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona State football team has its work cut out for it when the Sun Devils head to Pullman on Thursday.

When the Arizona State Sun Devils take on the Washington State Cougars this Thursday, it's going to be cold. It's also going to be loud. It's also going take place on a campus that has cancelled classes to encourage students to show up to the game.

But when it comes down to it, this is just another game. For head coach Todd Graham, this week is just another opportunity to build toward a Pac-12 South title and a spot in the conference championship game. And Graham isn't going to hear otherwise.

"No excuses," the Sun Devil coach repeated throughout his press conference.

Graham appeared determined at his Monday press conference to squash every possible excuse for losing on the road this week. On Thursday night, Pullman, Wash. is expected to be about 35 degrees at game time, but don't tell the Sun Devils that.

"If one of my coaches says something about the weather, I'll tell them to go get a meteorologist job," Graham said emphatically.

Arizona State's top dog was dead serious about not allowing the weather to effect his team. He knows the game plan that his coaching staff has put in place, and he says his players can execute in any condition.

"You go, rain, sleet, snow, Alaska, Maine, it doesn't matter where it's at," Graham said. "You have to go win. That's the mindset."

Arizona State actually won four games away from Sun Devil Stadium in Graham's first season at the helm last year. This year has been a different story, as the maroon and gold has dropped its only two road games of the season.

Graham said the Stanford loss was understandable, and attributed the loss to a poor special teams performance and an inability to get the running game going.

"We got beat by a good team (Stanford), I think they outplayed us that day," Graham said. "Obviously outplayed us in special teams."

The loss to Notre Dame in Dallas is another story, as Graham is still frustrated by the Sun Devils' performance in early October.

"In Dallas, that was one that we lost that I felt like we should have won," Graham said. "Missed opportunities. In two games that we've come up short in, we haven't been able to effectively run the football. That's the key."

The Sun Devils' have an advantage heading into the Washington State game because they didn't play this past weekend. The extra time has allowed many players to heal up, and Graham took advantage of the opportunity by practicing without pads for seven days.

"I've never done what we've done this week, taking the pads off the entire week to try and heal them up," Graham said. "I think it was smart, but are we mentally mature enough to handle that? We'll see."

Graham also offered a revolutionary approach to how he would change up the Sun Devils' road strategy. Instead of traveling with a large squad, Graham wants to see how his team would respond if he only brought players that were absolutely guaranteed playing time.

"I think we travel too many people. People that aren't playing," Graham said frankly. "Let's put 35 guys on a plane, people that are going to play. Let's give them all a room, double what everybody eats. You know what I'm saying, that's really what you ought to do."

Of course, Graham won't be changing his travel plans anytime soon, but it did show off a unique perspective that the coach has clearly thought about before. With Arizona State's road struggles well documented, it's hard to blame him for thinking outside the box.

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