If the Sun Devils are going to find success against the Fighting Irish, it's going to have to be a full team effort. Certain players, however, will need to really show up against the Fighting Irish.
He continues to be all over the field for the Sun Devils and might be the player Arizona State really needs to step up Saturday. Moeakiola has 43 tackles, but more importantly he's tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with 7.5 and second on the team with four sacks. It's just a hunch that he comes up with a big play at the right time Saturday whether it's an interception a forced fumble for the Sun Devils. With Everett Golson's true dual threat abilities and Moeakiola doing a little bit of everything on the field whether its pass coverage or blitzing, he'll have to be ready for everything both Golson and the Fighting Irish can throw his way.
Welcome to the big stage young man. A freshman, Morgan will replace a senior in Notre Dame linebacker Joe Schmidt, who was the leader of the Fighting Irish defense this season before going down with an ankle injury against Navy last weekend. Schmidt led the team with 65 total tackles, Morgan has a total of eight this season. He's got some experience under his belt, but nothing like this. Whether or not Morgan maintains his composure and replace Schmidt's production will play a large role Saturday.
Viliami Latu and Edmond Boateng
Keith Patterson told reporters present at practice Wednesday morning that Jaxon Hood isn't expected to play Saturday for unknown reasons. Demetrius Cherry's status is also up in the air because of a DUI arrest, and Boateng might be the player to lean on after Marcus Hardison on the defensive line. Boateng has started five of eight games and has 15 tackles, but nine of those 15 tackles have come in the past two games against more true dual threat quarterbacks and run heavy teams like Troy Williams at Washington and Travis Wilson in Utah. While Notre Dame has a more balanced attack, Boateng is one of the Sun Devils more athletic defensive lineman and might see some more time if the coaching staff believes he could have an easier time keeping contain on Golson when he wants to run. Boateng hasn't played in a game of this magnitude yet, but might make a bigger difference Saturday.
Latu is Hood's likely replacement on the line. He hasn't started a game this season, but has eight tackles. Blitzes from the Sun Devils take care of most of the pressure on the quarterback, however, Latu has to stop a potent running game for Notre Dame as well. At 260 pounds, Latu takes away the ability of the Sun Devils to have a truly heavier package on the defensive line. He'll need to make the most of his own abilities Saturday to be an effective replacement for Hood if he doesn't play.
Lloyd Carrington and Damarious Randall
Remember that stat everyone kept repeating which said the Sun Devils were losing nine starters on defense? It seems 10 miles away now, but Carrington and Randall were the only two returning defensive starters. They were, therefore, also the only two players to start in the Pac-12 Championship game. Saturday is the Sun Devils biggest game since that evening in December 2013. Experience, which Notre Dame has a lot of, can make a difference in games like this. While the Sun Devils have home field advantage, Randall and Carrington will have to help temper the high emotions which are bound to rise to the surface in players before Saturday. With emotion comes unsound fundamentals and not playing with their heads, staying grounded will be key and these two players can help with that.