Arizona State went up to Pullman, Washington on Halloween last season and played on cruise control almost the entire game. Apparently they wanted to get home early and trick or treat because it was over by halftime with the Sun Devils leading 42-14. Then the maroon and gold put on the breaks with a couple of substitutions and won 55-21.Taylor Kelly threw for five touchdowns and ran for another two, as the Sun Devils totaled 557 yards of offense.
The story won't be the same next time around in November.
In 2014 the Cougars will return a lot of experience on offense and didn't lose nearly as much on defense as the Sun Devils (not very many teams did). The good news for Arizona State is that they have beaten the Cougars nine of the past 10 times the two teams have met. But an inexperienced defense, especially at the cornerback position, means that WSU might have a chance to turn the tables this season. Check out these players to watch and see what you think.
Offense: Connor Halliday (6-foot-4, 201 pounds)
The air-raid style of play at WSU begins and ends with the redshirt senior Halliday under center. He threw the ball a ridiculous 714 times last season, completing 449 of them for 4,597 yards, 34 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Against the Sun Devils he threw for 300 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The problem for Halliday is that he's going to lack protection. The Cougars will be rebuilding an offensive line that only returns two starters and lacks experience.
Offense: Gabe Marks (6-foot-0, 181 pounds)
Marks, a junior, is the best of a very deep core of wide receivers that return for WSU in 2014. He caught 74 balls for seven touchdowns and 802 yards last season. The Los Angeles native is one of six wide receivers for the Cougars who had more than 400 yards receiving last season. Halliday loves to spread the ball around, but Marks was targeted 118 times last season, 38 more than the next-best wide receiver Dom Williams. He caught four balls for 66 yards and a touchdown against Arizona State last season, but another year under his belt with an unproven Sun Devil secondary means Marks could be trouble for Arizona State in 2014.
Defense: Xavier Cooper (6-foot-4, 298 pounds)
A redshirt junior, Cooper will, without a doubt, be the star of Mike Breske's 3-4 defense in 2014 from the D-line. He made 50 tackles last season, 13.5 for loss, and had five sacks as well. He'll be eligible for the NFL draft after the season is over, and there is a good chance that a team will use a pick on him if he can increase his production again this season. Phil Steele and Athlon Sports named him to their their respective preseason third team All-Pac-12 teams this summer so he does have some hype surrounding him. The secondary is pretty barren for WSU this year, so Cooper and linebacker Darryl Monroe, provide at least two players Todd Graham and Keith Patterson will need to have a game plan for when the Cougars come to town.