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After three close losses, ASU football is ready to get back on track

The Sun Devils were just a few touchdowns away from a handful of wins


ASU junior wide receiver N'Keal Harry (1) defends the ball in a game against Oregon State in the Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in Tempe, Arizona.

ASU football has lost three of its six games this season, and in all of those losses, the Sun Devils lost by seven points

ASU's most recent loss came in the game before the bye week against Colorado, in which the Buffaloes won 28-21.

For the Sun Devils, the team is in agreement that the first step in being on the winning side of close games is to score "two more" touchdowns. 

“I tell our guys that we have to find a way to score two more touchdowns…” offensive coordinator Rob Likens said. “We’ve got to come up with another one somewhere whether it’s a trick play, whether it’s a play action, whether it’s a long run, whether it’s a guy taking a ten yard stop route and spinning in and out of it …We’ve just got to find a way to conjure up two more touchdowns a game and I think we’ll be where we want to be.”

The Sun Devils want to put themselves in a situation where they get those two additional touchdowns so they do not have to work uphill, as it has been necessary for them to do in most of their games. 

“We don’t want to play like we’ve got to get another touchdown to get back in this thing,” redshirt senior quarterback Manny Wilkins said. “We want to play like we’ve got a two-touchdown lead, let’s continue to do what we’re doing so we can be comfortable and we can just play without having the thought of we need to score.”

The increasing importance of the run game has made it so ASU has games with narrow deficits. ASU must take advantage of all six of its remaining games — starting with Thursday’s game against the Stanford Cardinal. 

“With Stanford, you know what you’re going to get,” Wilkins said. “You’re going to get a disciplined football team, you’re going to get guys that are going to stay in their zones, you’re going to get guys that are going to play good man coverage. They’re going to run with guys, they’ve got athletes, they recruit good athletes like we do."

Stanford is similar to ASU in the sense of suffering two narrow losses in a row.

Nevertheless, Stanford has won four games compared to ASU’s three, but the teams are both trying to pull the most success they can out of the remainder of the season. 

“We’ve only got six opportunities left and they’re all important,” head coach Herm Edwards said. “Stanford, obviously, is a quality football team … they’ve suffered a couple of tough losses, close games.”

ASU is becoming known for its close games as well, and this could mean that the Sun Devils have another very tight game ahead of them. 

“I think we have a really good game plan,” Wilkins said. “Obviously, anytime you have some extra moments for yourself to watch more film and you have a couple extra days here and there, it’s really beneficial, especially going against a team like Stanford.”

Reach the reporter at or follow @paige_burnell on Twitter.   

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