Redshirt junior Steven Threet is sixth in the country in passing yards per game. While he’s missed a few throws, he could very well be leading the nation if not for the 12 combined drops ASU receivers had in the team’s first two contests.
It would be hard to argue that Threet hasn’t excelled thus far in offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s no-huddle offense.
Senior Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien has been a steady game manager since taking over as lead signal-caller last year. Tolzien is effective in play-action pass scenarios, but works primarily as a complementary threat to UW’s running game.
The Sun Devils averaged less than two yards per carry on the ground against Northern Arizona last week. ASU’s backs contributed in the passing game, however, as sophomores Jamal Miles and Cameron Marshall combined for six receptions and a touchdown.
Have no doubt though, ASU will need to be much more effective on the ground to come out of Camp Randall with a win.
John Clay is a 255-pound Heisman candidate. Clay rushed for over 1500 yards and 18 touchdowns last year. He is one of the best power running backs college football has seen in the last few years.
The drops have hurt, and it’s not something ASU receivers have shown in practice, so it’s hard to tell if this will be a season-long issue. Sun Devil receivers did produce big plays on Saturday and they have such great depth they are likely to provide a new star every week. The absence of junior tight end Trevor Kohl greatly affected the running game.
The Badgers could be without their top receiver, junior Nick Toon, who is struggling with turf-toe. UW does feature a fantastic tight end in 240-pound senior Lance Kendricks.
The Sun Devils struggled up front in their second game, often getting pushed back, allowing penetration and not opening up running lanes for its backs. ASU will move redshirt junior Mike Marcisz to left guard and is likely to bring on redshirt junior transfer Aderious Simmons as a starter at right tackle.
UW has one of the largest, most powerful and most dominant offensive lines in the country. Its bookend tackles are both 6 feet 7 inches tall and weigh over 325 pounds and its interior lineman averages in at nearly 320 pounds.
It was another rather underwhelming performance from the Sun Devils’ defensive front, given their standards from last season. If redshirt sophomore Toa Tuitea and sophomore Corey Adams, both defensive tackles, are back that will go a long way in determining the Sun Devils competitiveness up front against the Badger’s gargantuan offensive line.
UW is mostly unproven on its front four though they have returning starter and standout defensive end J.J. Watt who had 4.5 sacks last year and is on the Lott Trophy Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award watch lists. UW comes into the game ranked 22nd in the country in defense.
The Sun Devils linebackers were very active against the Lumberjacks, but sophomore Vontaze Burfict once again stepped over the line one too many times. How will one of the top units in the country react to UW’s physical play?
UW senior Blake Sorensen leads the Badgers in tackles through two games. Culmer St. Jean is the middle linebacker and started last season, while redshirt sophomore Mike Taylor returns from a season ending injury last year.
ASU redshirt sophomore Deveron Carr had his first career interception against NAU while junior safety Eddie Elder was once again a standout. ASU’s defensive backs and safeties will have to help in run support this week.
UW senior safety Jay Valai started all 13 games last year and was a second team All-Big Ten selection. Fellow starting safety Aaron Henry returned a fumble for a touchdown against UNLV. The Badgers have two interceptions and 11 pass deflections in its first two games.
Sophomore Jamal Miles had 105 yards in punt returns and likely won the job for the foreseeable future with his week two performance. Seniors kicker Thomas Weber and punter Trevor Hankins may have to kick in wet conditions Saturday, an uncommon occurrence in Tempe.
UW kicker Philip Welch was a pre-season All-Big Ten selection and has converted his first four field goals of the year. Punter Brad Nortman ranked 40th in the country last year in punting yardage, while UW’s return game has been sub-par thus far.
Overall Edge: UW
Reach the reporter at email@example.com