Sun Devils nation…let’s ride.
The time has finally come to sit down on the couch and consume good food and good football while the family screams political slander at one another for hours on end. Truly a magical time of year, in my opinion.
We are also blessed with the opportunity to watch the Sun Devils take a trip down I-10 to Tucson with a chance to defend the Territorial Cup for yet another year. Although, this might be the toughest fight with the Wildcats we’ve seen in quite some time.
Arizona has been nothing short of a nuisance in the Pac-12 this year, going stride for stride with some of the best teams in the conference, even knocking off a top ranked opponent a few weeks ago in UCLA.
They’ve had their fair share of blowout losses to teams like Utah and Oregon, but this Wildcats offense is dynamic in their play calling. When they execute, U of A is fast and can put points up in a matter of minutes.
It all starts with the play of their shifty, unorthodox quarterback.
Watch for: Jayden de Laura, QB
At his best, the sophomore transfer from Washington State looks like a young Marcus Mariota extending plays with his legs and moving the ball downfield with precision. At his worst, he can look like a poor man’s Johnny Manziel. It’s really about who shows up to the field that day.
ASU is no stranger to de Laura, who got a win last season against the Sun Devils as a Cougar when he threw for over 230 yards and two touchdowns. The Hawaiian born quarterback has thrown for over 300 yards in four of his last five outings, including 315 and two touchdowns in the upset win over UCLA.
As good as he’s looked in some of their big wins this year, he’s had a few head-scratching performances as well. For example, last week against his former team, de Laura threw not one, not two, not three, but four interceptions in a game he also threw for over 350 yards, while also getting in a scuffle caught-on-camera with teammates on the sideline.
Jayden de Laura has 3 INTs after this.. things are not going great for Arizona pic.twitter.com/THk4GBVeda— RanDynasty (@ran_dynasty) November 19, 2022
It almost feels written in stone that de Laura has a big game this weekend barring those costly turnovers. But if he does put the ball up for grabs, the ASU defense has to make him pay. Otherwise, he might stomp up and down the field on the Sun Devils.
Usually, when de Laura is firing the ball down the field, it’s going to the Pac-12 leader in receiving yards in 2022.
Watch for: Dorian Singer, WR
Dorian Singer is an Arizona native and Pinnacle alum, so you know he’s got personal stock in this game. The 6-foot-1 sophomore has had a terrific season, going over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his collegiate career.
Not only does he lead the Pac-12 in receiving yards, he’s top-10 in the country in the category behind receivers like Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jalin Hyatt. Needless to say this guy has great catch-and run ability. Coupled with another top-ten receiver in Jacob Cowing, Singer has really excelled as a downfield threat for the Wildcats.
Singer has six touchdowns on the season, including one last weekend against Washington State and a three touchdown day against USC at the end of October. His scoring total may not jump off the stat sheet, but you don’t want to let him break tackles in the open field.
ASU has struggled mightily this year against No. 1 receivers, so expect Dorian Singer to give you a headache watching from the stands or from the couch at home.
While Singer may not find the end zone as much as you would think, their third ranked receiver definitely has a nose for the pylons, and he might play a big role in this one.
Watch for: Tetairoa McMillan, WR
McMillan has scored in all but four games this season for Arizona, putting up eight touchdowns this season, which is tied for sixth in the nation. He’s collected just over 700 yards as their No. 3 this year which is impressive considering he averages around three receptions per game.
He has a season-long 46 yard touchdown reception on his resume in 2022 which came against Washington last month, so you know he has the ability to take the top off of a secondary if you lose sight of him.
As far as consistency goes, McMillan won’t be the one targeted as much as guys like Singer or Dowing. But, like I said before, he is the guy that can flip momentum on its head or provide the knockout punch late in the game.
Don’t lose sight of #4 down the field or in the red zone. It might cost you The Cup if you do.
Arizona’s defense gives up A TON of points. It’s no secret to the rest of the conference. They’ve allowed an average of 36.6 points per game, which is the second highest only to Colorado who’ve somehow given up almost 43 points per.
One defender to look out for is junior safety out of California, Jaxen Turner. Turner is leading the team in tackles at 71, and somehow interceptions with one all season. Arizona has a grand total of two interceptions in 2022, but they do have nine forced fumbles, one belonging to Turner himself. If there is anyone on their defense to make a difference, look for Turner to be that guy.
ASU’s offense will need to do some serious lifting in order to win what I believe will be a shootout in the 2022 Territorial Cup. I’ve had a vision (or a nightmare) that Jayden de Laura has one of those outrageous performances quarterbacks like to have against the Sun Devils, so Trenton Bourguet is going to have to put the team on his back like he’s Greg Jennings in Madden 09.
If The Cup makes its return to Tucson, it will be on the merrit of de Laura and the Wildcats offensive attack.