Football is an emotional game and oftentimes the strongest, most passionate of emotions are visible in players actions rather than words. This is the case leading up to ASU’s home bout against Washington State.
Saturday’s contest will be Senior Day for the Sun Devils’ (5-5, 3-4 Pac-12), as it is ASU’s final home game of the season.
When asked following Tuesday’s practice what it will mean to take the field at Sun Devil Stadium one final time, the usually talkative redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee was overcome with emotion and unable to speak.
“I can’t even talk about it,” Magee said before apologizing for his silence.
Emotions, such as the ones on display from Magee and the other seniors on the ASU roster, are why Senior Day is so special and a bit more meaningful than the previous five home games.
“I can still remember it like it was yesterday, my last (college) practice,” coach Todd Graham said. “I remember my last game. I remember the clock counting down on the field. I think it’s very important that me, the coaches and other players who are not seniors respect that.”
The seniors’ impact is felt on the entire team, but especially on freshmen who look at the veteran players as role models, and defensive lineman Jaxon Hood wants to give the seniors what he feels they deserve — a win in their final home game.
“That’s what I’m playing for personally,” Hood said. “I’m playing for Brandon Magee, (redshirt senior safety) Keelan (Johnson) and (redshirt senior cornerback) Deveron Carr, because they deserve it.”
In order for the Sun Devils to send their seniors off on a positive note, the defense will need to shut down Washington State’s (2-8, 0-7 Pac-12) prolific passing attack.
“They can flat throw the football,” Graham said. “(They have the) No. 1 passing offense in our conference so we have a challenge ahead of us with that.”
The Cougars average 337 passing yards per game, and although it remains to be seen if senior Jeff Tuel or sophomore Connor Halliday will start Saturday, both quarterbacks are capable of throwing the ball.
The Sun Devils should be familiar with Halliday, as he lit them up for 494 yards and four touchdowns just a season ago. Meanwhile, Tuel has thrown for 1,674 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Washington State has lost seven straight games and is dealing with distractions, after leading wide receiver Marquess Wilson abruptly decided to leave the team last week. However, ASU knows it cannot overlook the Cougars despite being heavy favorites.
“We have to play well, and our guys know that,” Graham said. “It doesn’t matter who you play in this conference. You have to go in ready to play and win. We’ve come up short four games in a row and we have to go out and get the win.”
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