Over the course of the remaining weeks separating us from the return of Sun Devil football, House of Sparky is taking a week-by-week look at the opponents ASU will face this season. So far we've covered ASU's non-conference schedule as well as their first six Pac-12 opponents of the year. After a road trip up to Pullman to open the final month of the season, the Sun Devils will return home to face the Washington Huskies.
Opponent Primer Schedule:
July 8 - Texas A&M - Read
July 13 - Cal Poly - Read
July 15 - New Mexico - Read
July 20 - USC - Read
July 22 - UCLA - Read
July 27 - Colorado - Read
July 29 - Utah - Read
August 3 - Oregon - Read
August 6 - Washington State - Read
August 10 - Washington
August 12 - Arizona
August 17 - California
2014 Season - 8-6, 4-5 Pac-12 (L in Cactus Bowl)
Washington opened its 2014 campaign with a pair of head-scratching, close victories against Hawaii and Eastern Washington, then rolled off three more wins in its next four games to start the season 5-1.
Chris Petersen's team then came back down to earth, dropping games against Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA, and Arizona as their schedule got tougher. The Huskies did manage a road win against Colorado in that stretch, then topped Oregon State on Senior Night to become bowl eligible. A blowout of Washington State in the coldest Apple Cup in history capped their eight win regular season and locked up a trip to Tempe for the Cactus Bowl against Oklahoma State.
Washington fell behind 24-0 on a cold night at Sun Devil Stadium before slowly working itself back into the game. The Huskies actually had a shot at forcing overtime with their final possession of regulation, but an interception by Cowboy cornerback Kevin Peterson with five seconds left sealed their 30-22 victory.
QB Cyler Miles - Miles started 12 games in Petersen's offense last season but missed the Arizona State game due to concussion-like symptoms. He recorded 21 touchdowns and amassed over 2,700 total yards in 2014.
DT Danny Shelton - Gone is this first round draft pick, and he takes his first team All-American honors and 93 tackles along with him.
CB Marcus Peters - Another of Washington's three first round picks. Peters was dismissed from the team late last season and missed six games in total due to disciplinary issues, but still finished the year with 30 tackles and three interceptions.
OLB Shaq Thompson - Thompson departs Seattle one year early after becoming one of the nation's most versatile players in 2014. He scored six touchdowns last season, two as a running back and four via fumble/interception returns on the defensive side of the ball. He was taken by the Carolina Panthers with the 25th pick in the draft.
WR Jaydon Mickens - Mickens is back for his senior season after a breakout year in 2014. He was the favorite target for each of three quarterbacks used by the Huskies and finished the season with 60 receptions for more than 600 yards. He is also a threat out of the backfield, where he scored two touchdowns last year.
TB Dwayne Washington - Washington played through a chest injury for the majority of last season and still had nine touchdowns and nearly 700 yards on the ground. He is by far Petersen's best option out of the backfield and is primed for a breakout season if he can stay healthy.
K Cameron Van Winkle - Van Winkle was one of the top kickers in the nation in 2014 as a sophomore and only figures to improve this year. He was near automatic on extra points (47/49) and hit 20 of 24 field goals, including a 51-yarder.
FS Budda Baker - Baker ended up being the team's top defensive back last season, making highlight after highlight as a true freshman. The free safety had one interception, six passes broken up, and 80 tackles in 2014.
Reason for ASU optimism
Outside of Baker, this Husky defense is going to struggle in 2015. The growing pains will be real for a team that loses its top quarterback and five draft picks. Petersen and company do have a fairly easy home slate, one they should be able to take advantage of to reach another bowl game. But their game against the Sun Devils comes on the road, and the maroon and gold's explosive offense should not struggle in their effort to light up the scoreboard.
Reason for ASU pessimism
While Washington will be away from the friendly confines of Husky Stadium, it will be playing its second game at Sun Devil Stadium in the same calendar year thanks to the experience gained from a trip to the Cactus Bowl. That might be worth...something?
And as we touched on above, the Huskies have one of the top special teams units in the country. Arizona State won a lot of close games last season, partly due to the kicking woes of their opponents. That shouldn't be the case here.