Tempo was a theme in Todd Graham's weekly press conference as the Arizona State Sun Devils prepare for the high powered Oregon offense. Oregon (52.3) and Arizona State (40.5) are the top two teams in the Pac-12 in scoring offense, and both teams run an up-tempo attack.
"We try to manage our snap count," said coach Graham. "I mean how many snaps we play defensively. Our goal in this game is to not be playing 80+ snaps on defense."
Graham said that the Arizona Wildcats played 61 snaps on defense against Oregon in the first half. And although the Ducks only led 13-0 at halftime, Oregon outscored the Wildcats 36-0 in the second half.
One way Graham said to limit his team's snaps on defense is to force turnovers.
"Every turnover we get, in my years of coaching, you play five less snaps (on defense)," said Graham. "You get four turnovers, you play 20 less snaps, keep it under 70, that's the formula to win."
Graham expects the crowd to have a big effect on the contest, as even though Oregon hasn't lost a road game in three years, redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota is making his first true road start of his career.
"This is his first year, and this is his first game being played on the road," said Graham of Mariota. "My deal is this is a different year, different season. Their tradition helps them tremendously, their experience helps them tremendously. I do think the crowd, no matter how experienced you are, is a factor. That's why its so hard to win on the road."
Oregon comes into Tempe with the nation's fourth-best rushing offense, averaging just over 300 yards rushing a game. Kenjon Barner already has 761 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the season. Sophomore running back De'Anthony Thomas is averaging 9.2 yards per carry and leads the team with 205 receiving yards.
"They've got probably the most dynamic player in the country and maybe the second most dynamic player in the country on the same team," said Graham of Oregon.
The Arizona State head coach laid out his formula for a Sun Devil victory Thursday night.
"We have to be able to run the ball, move the football and not turn the ball over," said Graham.
News and Notes
- Arizona State WR Rashad Ross was named Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week today. Against Colorado, Ross opened up the second half with a 100-yard kick return touchdown.
- The Arizona State vs. UCLA contest on October 27th will start at 12 p.m. and be televised locally on FX.
- Graham said that he got some insight about Oregon from Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn. The two are friends and exchanged some film on Oregon this week. Malzahn was the offense coordinator for Auburn when they beat Oregon in the National Championship game and now coaches the Arkansas State Red Wolves, who lost to the Ducks 57-34 in week one. Graham said that Malzahn told him about Oregon, "They're pretty good. (jokingly)"
- Arizona State leads the Pac-12 in: total defense (272.67 YPG), scoring defense (14.17 PPG), pass defense (144.17 YPG), quarterback sacks (4.33 per game) and tackles for loss (9.83 per game).
- Arizona State's all-time record against Oregon is 16-16. The Ducks have won seven straight against ASU, with the last Sun Devil victory coming in 2004 when Andrew Walter led the Sun Devils to a 28-13 victory in Eugene.