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The RPO Column: Chaos (Week 6)

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Everything happens every game.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona State Sun Devils are now 5-1. Crazy to think, right?

Thanks to everyone who submitted their takeaways, comments, concerns, etc. across the social media sphere. For those who are wondering what this is, welcome to the RPO column.

We respond to your takes by either running with it, passing on it, or listing some options out of it (RPO). We’ll be running this the day after each Arizona State football game for the rest of the year, and our first edition ran last week.

Now that we’re cozy with everything, let’s get to business.

This week’s dedication: Chaos

For those who don’t know, I did not grow up on Sun Devil football. Let me say, this brand of football is insanely wild.

There is so much going on, adding to the already weird game scripts the Sun Devils seem to play to so often. Many who are familiar with Arizona State football have been quick to inform me that this craziness is actually normal. If that’s true, credit to all of you who have stood by and watched through it all—good and bad. It’s certainly thrilling, entertaining, and at times maddening, I suspect.

Following the Maroon and Gold’s victory Saturday night, Doug Haller of AZ Central summed up the Sun Devils’ season amidst their very odd quarterback situation pretty well:

Defensively, you could add the pass defense which has struggled, the injuries, the early suspensions and missed games of key veterans to that mix. Not to forget the poor tackling that’s haunted the team.

There’s eight new coaches on Todd Graham’s staff, too. We could go on.

Let’s not. Let’s just enjoy the ride, and more importantly, get to your thoughts regarding your chaos-loving team.

Focused and inspired team football all night with the next man up mentality to earn a great team win vs a quality opponent. The heart to win close games and finding a way to get it done. (Bobby Niiro via Facebook)

Response: Run with this.

The Sun Devils have maintained this sort of mentality from the spring to now. Running back Demario Richard was asked earlier this week about having a new quarterback under center with Brady White starting, and he quickly responded, “It’s not a new quarterback” and went on to discuss how there is a next man up mentality, like you said, Bobby.

Head coach Todd Graham has harped on the culture that’s been established at ASU. The presence his players have, the belief they have in one another, and the unity they display as far as drive to accomplish one goal is eminent. They keep finding a way, and I think the team’s heart has much to do with it. I’m not sure where you all stand on the momentum debate and whether it’s real or not, but I figure the “team heart” factor of similar discussion.

@HouseOfSparky right now we play well at home and poorly on the road. The two games we can win on road Oregon, UA. Think we go 9-3” (@cpaTTonmckay, sparky mcsparkface via Twitter)

Response: Pass on this.

I agree that ASU plays considerably better at home, and that both Oregon and Arizona are winnable contests. However, I disagree Arizona State can pull off nine wins. It’s a tough ask, especially with the current uncertainty at quarterback and if cornerback Kareem Orr is to miss any significant time (he worked on a stationary bike during the game after getting injured, so I would assume he’s not out long).

It’s very tough to expect the Sun Devils to win nine games with a remaining schedule of: Colorado (good team), Washington State (hot team), Oregon (OK, you can expect to win this one), Utah (tough, ranked team), Washington (on the road? Loss), and Arizona (rivalry game. You never know).

QB and 3rd down blown coverages are concerns... thought: need to get @NkealHarry15 more involved. (@Sundevilkid31, Tyler Serbin via Twitter)

Response: Option

Let’s start with quarterback. Dillon Sterling-Cole has the arm talent, but he’s even less of an athlete than Brady White, in my opinion. Offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey may feel comfortable attacking defenses vertically with him under center. Not to mention, while Manny Wilkins is nursing a high-ankle sprain, it’s not out of the realm of possibility he returns against Colorado.

Blown coverages were down this week. So long as the ASU secondary continues to play this consistently, the only true big plays the unit will concede will happen when there’s missed tackles much closer to the line of scrimmage.

N’Keal Harry is still a freshman. While I understand the physical talent and what he’s flashed has been awesome—and certainly agree he’s awesome—Tim White is getting the most targets because he’s the Sun Devils best playmaker. Harry included.

His volume won’t really see a great increase until White and Jalen Harvey have moved on. Depending on how the opponent’s scheme dictates matchup (like USC, UCLA’s corners were physical, pressed at the line and played a lot of man), Harry will be more heavily targeted.

For what it's worth, he was targeted the second-most times of any ASU receiver yesterday. Harry was thrown to seven times and White 18 times, but no other receiver registered more than three.

Koron Krump. He fast. (@reluctant_DMD, guy incognito via Twitter)

Response: Run

Yes, he is. Not only as a pass rusher off the edge, but also as a gunner on the special teams unit. Did you see that chase down of Soso Jamabo to save the Sun Devils from giving up six points, too?

Graham has a history of hitting on JUCO transfers, and out of this year’s crop (which was ranked the top in the country) Crump may be the gem. He leads the team with five sacks and two forced fumbles to go with six tackles for loss this season.

Look across the landscape of college football and you see defenses using smaller speed-rushing specialists to bend the edge on passing downs. Alabama’s Tim Williams has drawn first-round NFL draft value because of it. Crump may not be at that level, but he has the potential to.

The uniforms were almost as bad as Oregon's this week. (Aaron Wood via Facebook)

Response: Run

Aaron, my friend, I agree.

I think the uniforms look cool (you can never go wrong with white helmets). The problem is I had no clue which players I was watching from the press box without a pair of binoculars due to the black number type on the grey jersey. Even with the television broadcast fired up at the same time. Unless I could differentiate by a player their physique, I had no clue for most of the early stages of the contest who was making plays, mostly on the defensive side.

But man, are you talking about the Oregon’s Puddles uniforms? I liked those...