With rivalry week is in full gear, offensive coordinator Rob Likens and senior center Cohl Cabral spoke to the media about the upset victory over Oregon and the Territorial Cup matchup this Saturday.
Offensive Line performance against Oregon
On offense, Arizona State put up 535 total yards, but hurt themselves with 12 penalties for 90 yards against the Ducks. Outside of wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk’s celebration, the offense had six false start penalties.
Cabral spoke about the self-inflicted wounds and how the offense was able to salvage drives to get points on the board.
“The hardest thing for us to get over was the false starts just because they were drive killers. We lucked out a few times because they were on first downs and we still had four downs to make the 15 yards back up,” Cabral said. “As a group, we were set on what we needed to do and took a chip off our shoulders. We didn’t want to have what happened to us last year where it came down to one play that could have determined our outcome of the whole season.”
Likens was proud of the offensive line as they faced one of the nations better defenses.
“They rose to the occasion. They were embarrassed after doing their assignments on their Oregon game from last year,” Likens said. “I think they just got out there with a purpose and they practiced like that all week.”
It is that time of year where all of the game’s best rivalries take over televisions and people stay glued to the couch.
This week makes it more special and meaningful, as families from all over the country come and support during Thanksgiving weekend. As a coach, Likens sees it as a little stressful with the scheduling being changed as families are in town with players.
“Everyone has family in town and you have to change your schedule because of Thanksgiving. It is a little uneasy because you get off your routine a little bit, which is scary as a coach,” Likens said. “That’s the tough part about the rival game around the holidays. It has a bowl game feel to it.
“I try to tell the freshman, you aren’t going to understand it until you get out for pregame. When you get out for pregame warmup, you are going to look around and say this is what they are talking about. Once you hit that field, it’s a total different feel.”
As for Cabral, he has played in four Territorial Cups, and in the past two years, he has had some of the best moments a player can have. A 19-point comeback to win in Tucson as well as getting two consecutive running backs to 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
With it being hate week and both teams despising one another, Cabral broke down what this week is like from a player’s perspective.
“I think the easiest way to say it is when people talk about this game, you never say the name,” Cabral said. “Yesterday when we were at the St.Mary’s food drive, even the guys who were there said, ‘Hey, go kick their butt or we hate them.’ One person walked up and she said I got to do it and said, ‘BearDown’ and everyone just lost it on her.
It’s definitely something. There is so much that goes into this game and everyone kind of just hates each other for whatever reason. It’s something that you become aware of over the years. When I first got here, I didn’t see it but the more I’ve played in the game, you start to understand why those older guys have a hatred for each other.”
Cabral and 16 other seniors will be playing at Sun Devil Stadium for the last time Saturday. It has been mentioned in the locker room this week. but to Cabral, he won't feel it until after the game.
“I’m trying to avoid that whole thing. It is definitely something but it is funny because there are a couple seniors yesterday talking about it and we were just sitting in the locker room,” Cabral said. “I don’t think it is going to hit me there on the field, but it will be when I'm sitting back at home with my parents having dinner after the game and just saying, ‘Oh crap, okay, that was my last one at home.’”
Some of Cabral’s favorite memories of playing at Sun Devil Stadium revolve around knocking off four ranked opponents in his time at ASU, as he took a moment to list off those notable nights.
“Just having a group of guys that have come together with to win those games with is awesome, and the fact that we have knocked off number five, number six, Oregon two years ago,” Cabral said. “It is awesome to see as a group when we play those high-caliber teams that we are able to play with them.”
Lasting legacy of the senior class
Saturday’s game will be the second to last game for this group of seniors, and the final regular season contest. They have dealt with the highs and lows throughout their time as Sun Devils, but for one of the senior captains, he sees the legacy built of off leadership.
Rather than the regular seasons he has gone through, Cabral dated back to early-season workouts and practices.
“Just the fact that there has been a lot of guys who have been in situations for a long time,” Cabral said. “That they can go out and show how things are supposed to be done, how summers are supposed to work, springs supposed to work, with taking charge of player lead practices over the summer. Things that are supposed to be run when the coaches aren’t around.”