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ASU vs. Stanford: Todd Graham has high praise for the Cardinal

Todd Graham's Tuesday post-practice interview consisted of encouraging injury news and compliments for the Stanford Cardinal.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There is little doubt who the two premier programs in the Pac-12 are; Oregon and Stanford have combined for the past four Pac-12 championships and are national championship contenders year in and year out.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Todd Graham speaks so highly of the Cardinal. Stanford won the conference last year, and enters Saturday's contest with Arizona State ranked No. 5 in both polls.

"I have a respect for people who win championships," said Graham. "There is a reason why these guys (Stanford) have been to as many BCS bowl games as they have been to, there is a reason why they are the defending conference champions. You better respect that."

Graham said that every player practiced today which surprised him coming off such a physical game against Wisconsin.

"Last year maybe not all of our guys would have practiced today," said Graham. "I was pretty impressed today, they never said anything and I know how sore they are."

The Sun Devils know the challenge they face on Saturday. The Cardinal have the nation's second longest winning streak with 10 straight wins dating back to last season. Stanford has won 27 of its last 28 games played in the state of California.

"If you are going to go into their place, you are going to have to take it," Graham said. "If you go in there and make mistakes, (it's) not happening. Preparation is the key and I thought our guys did a great job today."

Stanford's Taylor Kelly

Graham sees a lot of similarities between Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan and ASU signal caller Taylor Kelly. Hogan is a perfect 7-0 as the Stanford starting quarterback, including a victory at Oregon and a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.

"I am very, very impressed with their quarterback," said Graham. "He reminds me so much of Taylor, he is the key to their offense with his ability to extend plays."

After two games, Hogan has a 168.2 QB rating and has only taken two sacks on the season. Co-defensive coordinator Paul Randolph says the key to defending Hogan is to keep him in the pocket.

"He can move the chains on third downs, those are the things that are backbreakers for defenses," said Randolph. "You have to contain him and you have to keep him in the pocket and not let him become a dual-threat quarterback."

News and Notes

  • From the limited amount of practice the media gets to observe, I noticed the Arizona State scout team running a lot in the power-I formation (which is expected). Defensive tackle Mo Latu was spending time at tight end to try to simulate the big Stanford offensive front.
  • Defensive backs Alden Darby and Osahon Irabor wore the Pat Tillman camouflage No. 42 jerseys today.
  • Even though fans have not seen freshman WR Ellis Jefferson on the football field yet, do not expect him to redshirt. Graham said a muscle strain set him back a bit and some of the freshman have a difficult time adjusting to their football schedule once classes start.
  • Wide receiver Cameron Smith worked with the second team offense today in practice. Smith had been sidelined with a hamstring injury and and the freshman may get on the field soon. Graham calls Smith a legit deep threat and says team will use him once he is healthy.