ASU football stays focused as team heads to Colorado

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly carries the ball past the NAU defense during the Sun Devils’ 63-6 win over the Lumberjacks on Aug. 30. (Photo by Kyle Newman)

ASU will enter Thursday’s nationally televised contest with Colorado as heavy favorites, but the Sun Devils (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) know that overestimating the Buffaloes (1-4, 0-1 Pac-12) could result in disaster.

“One thing about Division I ball, you can’t just shut down because a team is not so good,” redshirt senior cornerback Deveron Carr said. “Like they say, ‘On Thursday night on ESPN, bad things happen.’ You go in there lacking mental preparation … and on Thursday you will lose.”

In addition to the Thursday night stage, the Sun Devils are expecting a hostile environment, as many — if not all — of the 53,613 seats at Folsom Field are expected to be filled.

Young teams, such as ASU, are sometimes fazed by environments encountered on road trips, but the Sun Devils know exactly what to expect and realize they just need a proper mindset.

“It’s going to be loud,” freshman running back D.J. Foster said. “It’s going to be chaotic. We need to keep our composure and make sure we are hearing our calls … We need to worry about ourselves, play our game and we will be alright.”

Offensively, the Sun Devils, led by redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly, are going up against a Colorado defense that allows 39.4 points and 474.4 yards per game.

The Buffaloes have allowed 76 points in their last two games and have struggled to establish a defensive identity, but ASU is not taking its opponent lightly.

The Sun Devils are rushing for 173.2 yards per game and want to continue to have success in the ground game. For this to happen, ASU needs to be focused and minimize the crowd.

“(We) have to be prepared to go and make sure we don't turn the football over or have stupid penalties because those are the things that give the crowd momentum,” coach Todd Graham said.

When Kelly, Foster and the rest of the Sun Devil offense are catching a breather on the sideline, ASU will attempt to slow down Colorado redshirt junior quarterback Jordan Webb.

A transfer from Kansas, Webb has thrown for just 892 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions through four games this season.

“I like (Webb),” Graham said. “He’s the guy we spent a lot of time on and I think he’s a very smooth operator. He gives them an opportunity.”

Although Graham has been impressed with Webb on film, the Buffaloes offense is averaging a measly 21 points per game, which ranks last in the Pac-12.

Defensively, ASU is allowing just 13.6 points per game — which leads the Pac-12. ASU’s defense also leads the conference in yards allowed per game (276.2), while Colorado’s offense ranks No. 10 in the conference averaging 341.8 yards per game.

Statistics indicate a decisive victory for the Sun Devils, and with a game against No. 2 Oregon a week away, many would assume ASU is already focused on the Ducks.

Graham insists this is not the case.

“You have to stay motivated on the opponent that is right in front of you, so (that is) what we have talked about,” Graham said. “I haven’t gotten any sense that our guys are overlooking Colorado.”


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