ASU vs. Washington State: Behind enemy lines with CougCenter

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

In this week's Behind Enemy Lines, we touch on weather conditions, Washington State's sieve of a defense and too many turnovers to count with CougCenter's Mark Sandritter.

Despite all the coverage to the contrary, Arizona State will actually be facing off against Washington State this Halloween, not the weather conditions.

To learn more about what to expect from those kooky Cougars from Pullman, we brought in CougCenter's Mark Sandritter. Sadly, we still couldn't help but ask him about the cold because anything under 75 degrees is a frightening proposition to a Tempe native:

Q: Todd Graham said Monday that he prefers to face a stellar pass-oriented offense over a ground-and-pound team. With that, and the fact that Arizona State will have had nearly 12 days to scheme for the Air Raid, how much success do you envision the Cougars passing attack having against the Devils?

Mark Sandritter: When you throw the ball as many times as WSU will, you're bound to have some success. It's simply hard for a defense to stop a team 60 times a game. The key for the Cougars is turning those yards into points. Red zone issues and turnovers have kept WSU from scoring more points, despite some huge yardage totals.

Q: But hey, y'all had a bye week too! What do hope Mike Leach had his team work on/correct during their midseason vacation?

Sandritter: The Cougars have really struggled to defend the pass this season. The secondary has had issues and the linebackers haven't been good in coverage at all. When asked Leach has said multiple times the defenders need to "be better with their eyes." So, uhh ... I guess I hope they did some eye work during the bye.

Q: The Cougars have coughed up 52+ points in three of their last four games. Does Washington State stand any chance of slowing down Arizona State or is just going to be a good ol' fashioned Pac-12 shootout?

Sandritter: They have a chance, I just don't know that it's a very good one. ASU throws the ball well, so that's going to be a problem. The Cougars have also been exploited by speed to the outside in recent weeks, so that could also pose issues. If the Sun Devils stretch the field vertically and horizontally the scoreboard will likely light up often.

If they decide to run the ball up the middle and dink and dunk, they would play into WSU's strengths.

Q: Arizona State hasn't won a cold weather game up north since the Sun Devils topped Washington, 39-19, in November of 2008. If the Cougars manage to use the climate to their advantage Thursday, what will be their best case scenario?

Sandritter: Hopefully it snows and ASU loses all ability to cut. That way when the Sun Devils try to stretch the Cougars out wide, they just fall down at the line of scrimmage instead of bursting through the hole.

It would also be excellent if ASU defenders get snow in their eyes when attempting to intercept Connor Halliday passes. So basically, just use the weather to eliminate all turnovers and stop ASU's explosive plays. No biggie.

Q: Back to reality: what's your score prediction for Thursday's game and how do you see this one playing out?

Sandritter: Even with the weather and the home-field advantage, I can't see WSU stopping ASU enough to win. WSU played OSU close a couple of weeks ago, going punch-for-punch with the Beavers before a few Halliday turnovers sent the game spiraling out of control. A similar result wouldn't surprise me on Thursday. I'll say 48-31 ASU.

For more on what to expect from the Coug crew this Halloween, pay a visit to one of SB Nation's finest team sites, CougCenter.

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