Receivers finally emerge in win over Washington State
After watching film of Saturday's victory over Washington State, ASU coach Todd Graham was pleased. The Sun Devils played well in all facets of the game and thoroughly beat the Cougars.
The wide receivers’ performance stood out on Saturday, as the group has been maligned all season. ASU's wide receivers caught a total of 19 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. Eight different receivers caught the ball in what was a break out game for the position group.
“We wanted to be more engaged in the offense,” redshirt junior wide receiver Kevin Ozier said. “In the past, the receivers had been kind of down, so we wanted to show everyone that we are playmakers like we are supposed to be.”
Ozier finished the game with three catches for 60 yards. Senior receiver Rashad Ross, playing in his final game at Sun Devil Stadium, led the receivers with eight receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
When the Sun Devils take the field Friday night against UA, they will hear their fair share of insults and taunts. Rivalry games are notorious for trash talk, but the Sun Devils know they can’t get involved in those extra curricular activities.
“It's kind of a hostile environment,” Ozier said. “The fans are screaming at you when you take the field, but you have to focus on the task at hand and not let that get to you.”
Redshirt junior offensive lineman Evan Finkenberg knows this is a big game and that both teams desperately want to win to make their seasons just that much better.
However, Finkenberg also knows emotions are a big part of games like these and he wants to make sure all his teammates keep their emotions under control.
“I (have to) help the younger guys understand what the atmosphere is going to be about,” Finkenberg said. “The energy you are going to feel during the week, you are going to feel some butterflies when you walk out onto the field and you see the whole stadium and all the fans against you. It may make you play a little nervous, get too hyped up, and that's the type of thing I need to talk to the younger guys about. It's just another football game. It's not, but it is.”
All season, Graham has preached discipline and the Sun Devils have certainly responded. No longer is ASU among the most penalized teams in the nation, and Finkenberg believes the yearlong commitment to discipline will play a factor.
Although Graham will always want fewer penalties, he has been pleased with his team's discipline for the majority of the year and wants his players to focus on what is truly important Friday night — the football game.
“You're not going to remember what some person said to you over the rail,” Graham said. “You're not going to remember who had the best (tweets) or who talked the most trash. You're going to remember who won the game. What is important is that you stay focused on that, and that is a challenge when you go on the road, especially in a rivalry game.”
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