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ASU football: Q&A with the Arizona Daily Wildcat

The State Press discussed the upcoming Territorial Cup with the Arizona Daily Wildcat


ASU football players lift the Territorial Cup in celebration after defeating UA on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015, at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.

Coming off its upset win over the then No. 6 Oregon Ducks, ASU (6-5, 3-5) looks to end the regular season on a two-game win streak when it hosts UA on Saturday. 

The Wildcats (4-7, 2-6) are vying to end what has been a disappointing season on a high note. 

The State Press discussed the upcoming Territorial Cup with UA's student newspaper, the Arizona Daily Wildcat's sports editor, Jack Cooper. 

1. How is Arizona preparing to handle Jayden Daniels and the high-flying ASU offense?

I’m really interested to see how the Arizona defense plays this weekend. What they need to do is bring pressure early and often. In their game against Oregon, everyone expected it to be over in the first quarter but the defense kept Arizona in the game until the third quarter. Through the first four games of the year, Arizona was leading the country with nine interceptions but since the game against UCLA, they only have two. One each in the last two games when the game was already decided. With Jayden Daniels flying high after leading an upset win over Oregon, Arizona is going to have to bring pressure and not let him have time in the pocket. Arizona’s secondary is not that great and if Daniels has time in the pocket, the game could be over pretty fast.

 2. How do you think the Arizona defense will look to contain ASU receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Frank Darby? 

Arizona’s secondary usually plays about 10 yards off when lining up on defense. They do this to try and limit the amount of big plays they give up. But doing this usually leaves plenty of underneath routes open which Utah really exploited last week. Even though Arizona is undersized and just doesn’t have the skill level to play man-to-man, I’d like to see them get up on the line and be competitive right off the snap. That means there’ll be big plays given up but it also means possibly getting pressure on Daniels and forcing ASU behind the sticks. 

3. Who are the Arizona standout offensive players ASU fans need to be aware of?

Arizona’s running back J.J. Taylor has been their most consistent and best player. The last couple of weeks, head coach Kevin Sumlin has been waiting until game time to make his decision on who will start at quarterback. The last two weeks Grant Gunnell has started but has been pulled in favor of Khalil Tate pretty early into the game. Neither of them have been able to produce anything on offense and only have one touchdown in their last two games combined. At wide receiver, Jamarye Joiner has been one of the most used and consistent. At the beginning of the year, he was still working on transitioning from a quarterback to receiver but he seems to be there now and has some of the best hands on the team.

4. How do you think the Arizona offense will look to attack the ASU defense?

Arizona plays best when they move fast. They don’t usually go fast until they get at least a first down on the drive. This offense also doesn’t go unless Taylor is touching the ball. Whether it’s a handoff or screen pass, Taylor is always a threat to score with the ball just because of how shifty and quick he is. He only stands at 5’6 but defenders have a tough time bringing him down. The play calling also changes whether Gunnell or Tate is in the game. Gunnell is more of a pro style quarterback who stays in the pocket and finds receivers and uses his arm. Tate is an option quarterback and is probably the most explosive player on the field when he’s at 100%. I would expect Tate to start but with the way Sumlin has been coaching the last couple of weeks, either of them can come in at any time. 

5. What is your final score prediction and why?

What Arizona has to do to win this game is establish the run. Sumlin talked about it during his press conference on Monday and said they’ve seen the best two run defenses in the conference the last two weeks and now they have to face the third-best this week. If Taylor comes out and has around 100 total yards, that would be huge for Arizona in what they want to do. The offense has been the biggest issue the last couple of weeks so if they can score a touchdown on one of their first drives, that would boost morale and momentum on the sideline. Also in this game, you never know what to expect with emotions really high and both teams wanting bragging rights. Taylor and Tate have never beaten ASU and Arizona hasn’t won this game since 2016 when they won without attempting a pass in the second half. I don’t think it will be enough, though, and ASU will come out on top.

30-24 ASU

Reach the reporter at or follow @jacobrosenfarb on Twitter. 

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