For the first time since 2016, the Arizona State Sun Devils and Washington State Cougars will meet on Saturday.
The Cougars are coming in 3-2 and have lost two straight, with a 67-63 loss to UCLA and a 38-13 loss to Utah last week. On the other hand, the Sun Devils are fresh off their bye week after a big win against the California Golden Bears two weeks ago. They are 4-1 and ranked No. 18 in the country.
The last two teams these teams met the Cougars won 37-32.
Let’s take a look at the Cougs:
About that air raid offense
Last season, the Cougars offense ended 27th in the nation and second in the Pac-12. They also led the nation in passing yards, averaging 374 per game.
So far this season, they have thrown for over 2,000 yards and averaging 450 yards per game.
After quarterback Gardner Minshew left for the NFL draft, it was time for senior Anthony Gordon to step up to the plate. And he has. In each of his first four games as QB, Gordon has thrown for over 400 yards and multiple touchdowns.
However, in last week’s matchup against the Utes Gordon only threw for 252 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He connected for 30 of his 49 passes thrown. It was not the normal Cougar offense that people are used to seeing.
The Cougars will need Gordon to rebound from the loss and get the offense going early against a Sun Devil defense that is only allowing 14.4 points per game so far this season. The Cougars’ offense is currently averaging 44.8 points per game, in comparison to the Sun Devils’ 22.8 points per game.
Arizona State’s matchup against the Colorado Buffaloes was a heavily pass-dominant game and the Sun Devils weren’t able to shut down the Buffaloes. Will they be able to shut down the Cougars?
Defense moves forward without coordinator
Earlier this week, the Cougars announced that defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys was no longer with the program after being with the team since January 2018. He wrote that he resigned due to on-field results and disagreements between himself and head coach Mike Leach. This week will be the first game that the team takes the field without Claeys.
Heading into week six, their defense was ranked 100th nation in the nation in points given up per game. In their previous two losses, they gave up 105 points total. Against UCLA, they gave up a 32-point lead and allowed 50 points in the second half.
Washington State’s opponents are currently averaging 30.6 points per game and they have given up 841 yards and seven passing touchdowns within the past two games.
Arizona State’s freshman QB Jayden Daniels isn’t scared to run the ball in order to make things happen, which is something that the Cougars struggled with against UCLA and Utah.
The Cougars defense will need to capitalize on Arizona State’s early struggles to convert on third down. They have been inconsistent on finishing drives. The Sun Devils can’t afford to get all the way in the red zone and only put up three points.