Sun Devils trying to improve red zone offense

MOVING THE CHAINS: Redshirt junior quarterback Steven Threet calls out signals during ASU's loss to Wisconsin. Threet and the Sun Devils are hoping to improve their red zone execution Oregon this weekend. (Photo Courtesy of Norm Ritland)

When taking on an offense with as much firepower as Oregon, the pressure could be on the ASU offense to keep up with the Ducks on Saturday.

For that to happen, ASU needs to be better at capitalizing on opportunities, especially in the red zone.

An overlooked aspect of last week’s loss to Wisconsin was what happened in the first two drives of the game. ASU took the ball down the field on its opening two drives, but only got three points.

“It could have cost us the game,” ASU quarterback Steven Threet said. “Only getting three points hurt. We moved the ball well, but it comes down to putting points on the board and that’s what we have to do.”

Extra point changes

While the early game red zone struggles flew under the radar a bit, the blocked extra point late in the game was the big storyline.

Ironically, the first extra point attempt at practice this week was also blocked, causing some changes to be made.

“We made a blocking mistake; it wasn’t anything physical,” Erickson said of the blocked PAT. “We made a mental mistake and we made some changes in that area to try and be better there.”

Despite the common belief that the block was a result of one player’s mistake, Erickson feels multiple players’ mistakes cost the Sun Devils.

“It wasn’t one guy’s fault, it was a couple of guys’ faults,” Erickson said.

Schwab to keep starting

Junior right tackle Brice Schwab will continue to start at right tackle, despite junior Aderious Simmons sharing reps at the position this week.

“Brice will start,” Erickson said. “That was never a question. We just wanted to get Aderious some turns with the first group.”

It continues to be a learning experience for Simmons, who has all the tools to be a starter for the Sun Devils.

“The thing with Aderious is that it’s about learning,” Erickson said. “It is not about ability, it is about understanding what to do when a call is made and that’s things he missed all through camp. We just have to keep being patient with him. He is so much better than he was.”

Kohl makes a difference

It is no coincidence that the game where ASU struggled to run the football was also the game junior tight end Trevor Kohl missed with a hamstring injury.

In the two games Kohl played in, ASU has averaged 205.5 yards per game on the ground. In the NAU game that Kohl missed, the Sun Devils rushed for just 56 yards.

“He gives us a lot,” Erickson said. “When he didn’t play that second game, it really hurt us.  He’s a guy that we feel like can handle a defensive end in our run game. He is one of the better tight end blockers I have been around in a long time. We take advantage of that.”

Injury Update

ASU is as healthy as it has been all season long.

Linebacker Brandon Magee suffered an ankle injury against UW, but will start against UO.

“Mentally, I am 100 percent and that is what it’s going to be,” Magee said.

Reach the reporter at andrew.gruman@asu.edu