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Noel Mazzone always wants to go faster.
Since taking over as offensive coordinator for the ASU football team prior to last season, Mazzone has implemented a high-tempo offense. That offense hinges on the Sun Devils’ ability to move quickly, especially in between snaps.
ASU has racked up plenty of points through six games this season under Mazzone’s watch. It has outscored its opponents 212 to 117, including 57 to 20 in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Brock Osweiler has thrown for 1,677 yards and 13 touchdowns while six receivers have collected 10 or more receptions.
The Sun Devils are set to go head-to-head with one of the most talented and high-octane offenses in the nation this week in Oregon. Saturday’s Top-25 matchup will feature Mazzone’s unit against the Ducks’ offense led by coach Chip Kelly.
“There’s a little bit of peer pressure,” Mazzone said. “I’ve known Chip for a long, long time. We’re good friends. A lot of this stuff, I watch him and a lot of stuff he watches me. Right now he’s going faster than I’m going, so I need to go faster.”
While Mazzone hopes to coach his group into moving at a quicker pace, he will always observe and learn from his counterpart.
For Mazzone, there is a lot to like about the Ducks’ offense.
“His speed at what he plays at,” Mazzone said. “It’s pretty simple. He’s got a great plan every week. Then they execute it at a real fast pace which is very impressive.”
Pflugrad eager to return to Eugene
Senior wide receiver Aaron Pflugrad began his collegiate football career as a member of the Ducks. He spent his first two seasons at UO before sitting out the 2009 season in order to transfer to ASU.
The former Duck finished his freshman season with 17 catches for 168 yards and a touchdown. Three years after playing his last game in Eugene, Pflugrad is excited for the chance to return to Autzen Stadium as a Sun Devil.
“It’s an important one,” Pflugrad said. “Big time game, big time atmosphere, going back to where I graduated high school and played so my family is going to be there. It’s going to be a fun game.”
Pflugrad has enjoyed a solid 2011 season through six games. He’s caught 26 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He’s tied for second in most catches and has the second most receiving yards among all ASU wide outs.
But having been a part of the UO program for two seasons, Pflugrad knows that Saturday looks to be far from easy for ASU.
“They’re a great team, a great program and got a lot of speed on offense and defense,” Pflugrad said. “We’re going to have to go up there and play a good game, but I think we’re ready for it.”
Now in his final season as a Sun Devil, Pflugrad looks back on his decision to transfer with confidence that he made the right choice.
“Definitely,” Pflugrad said. “I really trust in God’s sovereign will and his plan and he brought me down here. Once again, I got so many brothers on this team, I wouldn’t trade that opportunity for anything.”
Onyeali returns to practice
Sophomore defensive end Junior Onyeali participated in practice on Tuesday. He’s been sidelined since suffering a meniscus tear in his left knee during the Illinois game.
“Junior is getting better and better all the time,” coach Dennis Erickson said. “I don’t know what his status will be this week, but for sure he’ll be ready after the bye.”
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