Check out Part 1 of our interview with SB Nation's Washington site.
Below is Part II of our interview with UW Dawg Pound's site manager Kirk DeGrasse.
House of Sparky: The Sun Devils have lost three games in a row and sit at 4-5 (just like Washington). How winnable do most fans think this game is and how do they view ASU?
Kirk DeGrasse: Years of mediocre (and worse) football has left Washington's fanbase with wavering confidence. We get really hyped after a win and really angry (and depressed) after losses, and our confidence level in this team rises and falls accordingly.
I think intellectually most fans look at ASU and see a team struggling more than usual and a team the Huskies could beat. But a 9-game losing streak to the Sun Devils that stretches back 13 years and a 2-11 record in the state of Arizona since 2002 has some folks feeling like the Huskies have a desert curse.
HoS: Who are some names on offense that ASU fans should keep en eye on for?
KG: Well, you probably have already heard about true freshmen starters Browning at QB and Myles Gaskin at RB. Browning we talked about already (In Part I). Gaskin is a smaller back at 5'9", 195 lbs, but he runs with surprising toughness. He's not going to break a ton of tackles, but he gets more yardage after contact than you'd think from looking at him.
But his best traits are his vision and patience - he does a terrific job of hiding behind his OL, waiting for a crease to open and then exploding though it. He doesn't have elite speed, but not many guys are going to catch him from behind. Those are the two key guys.
Other players to watch out for are TE Josh Perkins and RB Dwayne Washington. High school teammates and both converted wide receivers, they are the next best play-makers on offense. Perkins is the safety valve for Browning and someone he'll frequently target in run-pass option plays down the seam.
Washington is the fastest player on the roster (with WR John Ross out for the year) with legit 4.42/40 speed. He's a big back at 6'2", 226 lbs, but he's all about speed. He's a dangerous receiver out of the backfield and will exploit linebackers on wheel routes. He's not the most instinctual runner, but if the OL gives him a lane he can take it to the house - he already has 7 scoring runs of 50+ yards in his career.
HoS: What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Washington defense?
KG: Washington's defense relies a great deal on simply playing fundamentally sound at all three levels. They have a very athletic group of linebackers, multiple run-stuffing tackles and a couple of terrific talents in the secondary in FS Budda Baker and CB Sidney Jones.
The Huskies are not a blitz-heavy team, so they often have 6-7 players back in coverage. They will mix up their looks from man coverage to cover-2 and cover-3 zone, and they have a lot of flexibility in their lineups ranging from (essentially) a 2-4-5 nickel look to a more traditional 3-4 look. They also rotate liberally so everyone stays fresh, with the side benefit of getting quality reps for the backups to help them develop.
On the down side, tackling has been an issue at times, most notably at Boise State and vs. Cal and Utah, and while the Huskies have been terrific on 1st and 2nd downs, they've been less effective on 3rd downs.
HoS: What is one thing Washington has to do to win on Saturday?
KG: Browning has to accurately read the ASU pressures and quickly find his hot reads, and the OL has to give him enough time to make those reads and deliver the pass. Utah State also brought a ton of varied pressures against Washington and Browning responded with a terrific game, but ASU has much better athletes and even more exotic and varied blitz packages and will put a ton of pressure on the true frosh to make the right decisions. If he does, I think the Sun Devil defense can be exploited.
HoS: Who wins and why?
KG: I'm going to ignore the 9-game losing streak in this series and assume there's nothing about the state of Arizona that is kryptonite for the Huskies. With that assumption in place, I think the Huskies have the kind of defense that can give ASU trouble. I'm a big fan of both Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage, and I think both are going to tough to bring down and cause some issues for Washington at times, but I'm also not sold on Michael Bercovici at QB. Both USC and Utah held the Sun Devil offense under 20 points, and I think the Huskies are also capable of limiting them to 20 or less.
On offense I think Graham's heavy blitzing will cause problems for an inexperienced and rather young OL early, but I also think Browning is a quick study and will do enough with both his legs and arm to exploit some of those blitzes for big plays, and the Huskies also appear to hold a significant edge in special teams play.
I think there will be some back-and-forth in this one and the Sun Devils may hold an early lead, but in the end I'm calling for Washington pick up a key win 31-20.