Arizona State still has a lot to play for this season, but none of it can come to fruition if they don't win their next two games, which starts with Washington State on Saturday morning. It's next to impossible to limit the Cougars in the passing game, all the Sun Devils can do is limit or match it score for score. Our players to watch reflect Arizona State's ability to do that this week.
Strong had his normally impressive effort against Oregon State, but didn't get involved in the game until the second quarter. He left late in the game with a mild concussion and has been in a green no-contact jersey at practice this week. Considering how badly it looked like Strong wanted to re-enter the game last week, I would be surprised to not see him on the field Saturday in what might be his last home game at Sun Devil Stadium if he declares for the NFL Draft. It should be noted that he has to pass all concussion tests and protocols before he takes the field again. He's clearly Taylor Kelly's favorite target, and he could be counted on a lot if WSU comes out guns blazing and scores early. Just Strong being on the field can sometimes provide enough of a distraction for the Sun Devils to find more success in the passing game. Look for Strong to have a huge game if it becomes a track meet against the Cougars.
Randall now has two interceptions in his last two games. WSU head coach Mike Leach employs an air raid offense which means he should be busy on Saturday offering help over the top. This becomes even more important this week because Kweishi Brown has blown coverages more than once this season. The Sun Devils gave up more than their fair share of explosive plays last weekend against the Beavers, Randall will be a key piece of eliminating game-changing plays against WSU.
The top target in an air raid offense can't be ignored, and that's exactly what Mayle is for WSU. He has 86 catches for 1,152 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Against Oregon State two weeks ago, he had six receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Mayle also has quality size for a wide receiver and could cause problems if he gets on the same page as quarterback Luke Falk in the early going.
It will be Hardison's final game at Sun Devil Stadium. He has found a lot of success as of late with an interception against Notre Dame and two sacks last week at OSU. Although WSU tries to get the ball out of the quarterback hands quickly, Hardison has a chance to once again make an impact with more chances than normal to rush the quarterback off the edge.He'll be facing a redshirt freshman tackle across the line of scrimmage in Cole Madison for WSU, so he'll have the experience edge too.