The Sun Devil football players remember the start of the Stanford game in September all too well.
The offense came out flat and only managed seven points in three quarters. On defense, the Sun Devils couldn’t stop the then-No. 5 Cardinal offense, giving up 42 points, the most they’ve allowed all year.
“From the first game, the biggest thing that we need to focus on that I’ve seen in film, that I remember from the game, is mental focus,” redshirt senior tight end Chris Coyle said. “Guys having small errors in the game that would end up in big negative plays for us. We just really need to focus in like we’ve been doing all week. Focus on our technique and our assignments, and if we go out there an play like the second half of the season, we’ll be just fine.”
There’s also an added advantage to playing the Cardinal a second time. The preparation is a little easier as they’ve played this team before.
“We know what they’re going to bring at us,” Coyle said. “We know the type of personnel they have. We’ve all played against these guys that are going to be on the field, we played them earlier in the season. We kind of know what to expect.”
Part of the reason ASU cut Stanford’s lead in the second half of the last game was because of ASU’s defense. The Sun Devils allowed only 13 points in the second half after allowing 29 in the first.
The Sun Devils’ defense now ranks third in the conference in total defense, fourth in pass efficiency defense and fourth in rushing defense.
Redshirt junior Taylor Kelly said the defense helps to inspire the offense, which ranks second in the conference in scoring and third in total offense.
“It’s huge; they get us going,” Kelly said. “(Redshirt senior defensive tackle) Will (Sutton) does a great job and (redshirt junior linebacker) Carl (Bradford) and (senior safety Alden) Darby, to get those guys going and play assigned football and do what they’re coached to do.”
The Sun Devils remember how it feels to be shellacked by the Cardinal, and it’s fair to say there is some motivation for revenge.
“It definitely is,” Coyle said. “It was a game where we did very poorly in the first half and the second half we proved to everyone that we could hang with them. We almost came back. We just had too much of a deficit that we were trying to make up for and so this time, we’re going to try and start out fast get on top, not look back.”
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