Sun Devils prepare for up-tempo Ducks

It is no secret Oregon’s fast pace offensive attack wears down defenses. The No. 2 Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) run a lot of offensive plays and often capitalize as opponents get tired. 

The Sun Devils’ defense has proved formidable all season, but coach Todd Graham constantly talks about ASU’s (5-1, 3-0) lack of defensive depth. The Sun Devils depth will be tested this week as it is likely ASU will have to rotate since the Ducks run a lot of offensive plays.

“We don’t have a lot of depth and where we have the biggest issues is on defense,” Graham said. “I wish I could say you can’t run more than a certain number of snaps, but the odds are that we are going to play a lot more snaps than we are used to playing. It is going to be pretty hard for that not to happen.”

Graham wants to make sure every player knows their role and is ready to fill in when necessary, but junior safety Alden Darby feels the team is prepared for the fitness test that will take place Thursday night.

 “We’re ready, we’re conditioned,” Darby said. “(Strength coach Shawn) Griswold has us ready for any game … We’ve been going all four quarters not (getting) tired at all and it has to do with our conditioning, our practices and how fast our practice tempo is.”

Although Darby believes his team is conditioned enough to compete with the Ducks for 60 full minutes, Graham wants to limit the amount of time the Oregonoffense is on the field.

In addition to simply getting stops, Graham feels creating turnovers is key since turnovers give the Ducks less time to score and the Sun Devils’ defense more time to catch its breath.

“Every turnover we get, in my years of coaching, you get five less snaps,” Graham said. “So get four turnovers, you get 20 less snaps, keep it under 70, that’s the formula to win and that is obviously easier said than done.”

Protecting Kelly

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly is not the most mobile quarterback in college football, but he is more than capable of making plays with his feet.

Kelly’s ability to extend individual plays and offensive possessions as a whole is vital to ASU’s offense, but his willingness to fight for the extra yard rather than sliding to avoid a hit has the potential to cause an injury.

“(Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell) bring that up to me a little bit,” Kelly said.

Graham appreciates the quarterback’s competitive nature and acknowledges Kelly’s toughness, but also wants the signal caller to be aware.

“I think there have been times when he has taken a couple shots and I’ll have to tell him to protect himself a little bit on that,” Graham said. “There was one play on the sideline last week, where he could have run out of bounds, and he already had the first down, but he kept going and the guy really hammered him, but he’ll learn.”

Ross receives recognition:

Senior receiver Rashad Ross was named the Pac-12’s special teams player of the week following his performance against Colorado.

Ross opened the second half of ASU’s blowout victory with a 100 yard kick return for a touchdown. ASU led 20-17 at the half and it was Ross’ touchdown that set the tone in the second half.

With the honors, Ross became the second Sun Devil to be recognized as a conference player of the week as redshirt junior defensive tackle was named the defensive player of the week on October 1, following ASU’s road win over Cal.

Reach the reporter at william.boor@asu.edu