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ASU Football: Sun Devils prep for Oregon's speed, relish bye week

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ASU wrapped up its week of practice on Thursday. Find out what Todd Graham and Jordan Simone have to say about the Ducks.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

ASU's had a funky week of practice following the disappointing loss in Salt Lake City last week, but with their next challenge coming in the form of the Oregon Ducks shortly approaching next Thursday, the Sun Devils aren't resting and relaxing during the bye week.

"Good day, our guys had a great day practicing. we've had a great week," head coach Todd Graham said.

While the Oregon allure isn't quite as strong this season, the intricacies of the Ducks speed-oriented offense presents new challenges for ASU. While some Power 5 teams were given byes as early as Week 3, ASU's comes after seven games with five left on the regular season slate.

"I think it's about right in the middle, it's kinda where you want it," Graham said. "We're playing a really good team, they've got their quarterback back, they've got their deep-threat receiver back. They're very talented skill-wise, very talented offensively."

With Oregon's speed offense comes the need to be disciplined, and ASU's been stout in their form tackling over the past few games. But while the Sun Devils lead the nation in tackles for loss, they haven't been able to force as many turnovers as Graham's previous ASU teams have.

"It's been frustrating. That's been bizarre. We've made a major emphasis this week on focusing on the takeaway part of it. We're hitting them in the backfield, we're hitting hard," Graham said. "The people we're hitting are doing a pretty good job of taking care of it."

ASU performed valiantly against Utah's Heisman candidate, running back Devontae Booker, for three-plus quarters. Safety Jordan Simone compared Booker's talents to that of Oregon speedster Royce Freeman, who is three yards away from a 1,000-yard season already and has scored 11 total touchdowns.

"(The) Running back's real similar to the guy we played last week," Simone said. "Just gonna have to tackle him and looking forward to a new test."

Oregon will benefit from the return of starting quarterback Vernon Adams, whose missed time due to injury played a major factor in Oregon's recent fall from grace. Adams returned last week and led the Ducks to a win over Washington. The FCS transfer has proven his place in FBS football.

"He's a good player, he's a guy I watched when he was at Eastern (Washington), just being from Washington, and he's a good player who does good things," Simone said. "But at the end of the day we've gotta worry about us and control what we can control.

"I know they're a good team and they got a lot of good athletes. We're a great team and have a lot of great athletes."

Graham knows the team has to recover from their tough defeat to Utah quickly.

"You've got to have a short memory," Grajam said  "And the season is about every day, every rep and getting better. You don't accept losing, but losing is a motivation to win and do the things it takes to win."