As the Sun Devils rematch Saturday night draws closer, it's becoming apparent who will need to play well. In some sense it's not about who plays this week, but how they play. Stanford is a large, physical, intelligent team and the Sun Devils will need to counter with similar traits in their players and that's who the players to watch focuses on this week.
Latu has played in every game this season but hasn't recorded a stat yet, that might change Saturday night. The redshirt junior stands 6-foot-2, 360 pounds. His size can be used to better plug holes against a run-heavy Stanford team and a team that averages 304 pounds across the front five. The Sun Devils need to counter Stanford's size with more of their own and Latu could play a large part in that. One question mark with Latu is if he is in good enough playing shape with withstand long extended drives by the Cardinal.
Fiso is third on the team with 30 total tackles and has one sack. He'll be important Saturday because Todd Graham has identified him in the past as a vocal leader on the field in identifying the packages of opposing offenses. While Stanford's schemes can look exotic and hard to read, it will be important for Fiso to trust his instincts on most plays. The Cardinal aren't afraid still to go to play action on first or second down so Fiso has to stay on his toes and read the tight end correctly as to whether it's a run or a pass play. The quicker Fiso can identify the offense on each play, the more success Arizona State can have.
Matt Haack and Alex Garoutte
The Sun Devils have allowed a special teams touchdown in each of their past two games and it doesn't get any easier with Stanford's one-man-show Ty Montgomery back returning kicks and punts for the Cardinal. Todd Graham has called Stanford's special teams the best in the country this week. Montgomery has averaged 29.1 yards per return on nine kick returns so far and 21.6 yards on punt returns including one returned for a touchdown.
Haack needs to add adequate hang time to his punts in order for the punt coverage units to get down the field or target his punts more accurately so Montgomery's chance at a decent return is slim. Garoutte needs to show off his leg and keep Montgomery guessing on kick returns. Although letting Stanford have the ball on the 25-yard line after a touchback isn't very advantageous for the Sun Devils field position, it's better than the possible alternative of a kick return for a touchdown in this case.