Sun Devils focused, ready to face Navy
In his first year at the helm of the ASU football program Todd Graham certainly accomplished a lot. The Sun Devils (7-5, 5-4 Pac-12) finished the regular season with a winning record for the first time since 2007, reduced penalties to just 35 yards per game and defeated UA in Tucson.
Despite the numerous accomplishment's in Graham's debut season, he knows the job is not finished and wants to give ASU fans the pleasure of celebrating a bowl win, something they have not been able to do since 2005.
After falling to Boise State in the 2011 Vegas Bowl, the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, against Navy, gives ASU another opportunity to end its three game bowl losing streak.
“You're going to a bowl game to win it first and for the experience second,” Graham said. “The bowl experience is a very good one, but it isn't any good if you don't win.”
Just as the 2012 Sun Devils accomplished a lot in the span of a few months, redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee achieved a lot in five years at ASU.
Magee has become the face of the ASU program for his contributions both on and off the field. Although Magee will always be remembered fondly among the Sun Devil faithful, he does not want to end his career on a loss.
“It would mean everything,” Magee said. “To go out a winner, to go out with my teammates and winner and to go out for the city of Tempe and for Arizona State to finish this season with eight wins, it would mean everything. I need to go out a winner.”
If the Sun Devils want to send Magee and the other 16 seniors out on top they will need to slow down the Midshipmen's (8-4) triple option attack.
Navy enters its second ever Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on a two game winning streak, averaging 275 rushing yards per game which ranks No. 6 in the country.
The triple option is as unique an offense as there is and is used to “equalize athletic ability,' according to Graham. Although the Sun Devils have not faced an offense remotely similar to the Midshipmen all season, they feel like they will be prepared.
Not only has Graham coach against Navy before, but he also coached against the triple offense as a high school coach in Texas.
If that is not enough familiarity with the offense, Graham also ran the offense while playing youth football.
While Graham is familiar with the offense, he will not be on the field trying to stop it, but Magee and the rest of the Sun Devils are confident in their abilities to stop any opponent.
“I'm sure they've never faced a defensive scheme like ours,” Magee said. “It's going to be a good matchup. If we're more disciplined than them on defense, we will come out on top.”
On the other side of the ball, ASU will have its hands full as well. The Navy defense only allows 22.7 points per game and is ranked No. 30 in the country.
“They have some good athletes on defense,” junior tight end Chris Coyle said. “They are very solid. We know they are going to be very tough. They are a military academy and that is just the mindset they have.”
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