After a thrilling victory over UCLA at the Rose Bowl Stadium, the Sun Devils have prepped this week to take on the No. 6 Oregon Ducks back in Tempe on Saturday.
The Ducks are coming off a win and are 9-1 overall. The matchup will see the reunion of head coach Kenny Dillingham and Oregon head coach Dan Lanning. Dillingham previously worked under Lanning as the Oregon offensive coordinator.
Oregon's offense will present a threat to the Sun Devils.
"Bo is just a better version of what he was last year," Dillingham said. "He got the ball out quick last year. Now he's doing it on steroids. I think everything that offense was, they're just better."
At ASU, Dillingham has gotten creative with the Sun Devil offense. Last week's offense saw a tossup of players in the quarterback position, including redshirt junior quarterback Trenton Bourguet, junior running back Cam Skattebo and redshirt junior tight end Jalin Conyers. Bourguet is expected to start for the Sun Devils on Saturday, according to the Sun Devil depth chart.
Bourguet is anticipating a tough matchup against the Oregon defense.
"They're another great defense in the Pac-12; super solid up front, great rushers, linebackers do a great job of flying around," Bourguet said. "It'll be a great test for us, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity."
Freshman quarterback Jaden Rashada participated in a few reps during practice this week but is still listed as injured on the depth chart.
Redshirt junior running back DeCarlos Brooks is back and healthy, providing another viable asset to the Sun Devil offense. Brooks has been out for weeks due to injury.
The Sun Devil defense has continued to play very well despite the team's offensive struggles.
Ranked 45th in the nation in total defense, ASU has held two opponents in the last four weeks to 15 points or less, including Washington, the sixth-ranked offense in the country, and UCLA last week to just seven points.
Graduate defensive lineman Dashaun Mallory won Pac-12 Defensive Lineman of the Week after his performance against UCLA, recording a half a sack and nine total tackles.
"He definitely deserved it," ASU defensive coordinator Brian Ward said. "He's been better than advertised. We got him and brought him in, and we thought he was going to be a good player for us, but he's exceeded our expectations, and he just keeps on getting better."
Junior defensive lineman B.J. Green has been holding down the fort for ASU in the middle of it all. Ranked fourth nationally in quarterback pressures, Green looks to be on a fast track to playing on Sundays in the not-so-distant future. He has six sacks on the season and 35 tackles in 2023.
ASU's defense has played well with one of the toughest schedules in the country in terms of offensive firepower.
Including the No. 2 ranked Oregon offense, the Sun Devils will have played six of the nation's top 43 offenses after Saturday's clash with the Ducks, with Arizona, the No. 30th offense in the country, coming to Tempe the following week. Not to mention, after Saturday, they'll have played five of the top seven quarterbacks in the country in passing yards.
Luckily for the Sun Devil defense, their head coach was in charge of the offense they will see Saturday just a season ago, ideally giving them unique insight into how the Ducks might attack on offense.
Saturday's game in Tempe and the civil war against Oregon State the following week are make-or-break games for the Ducks, who are still very much in the hunt for the College Football Playoff.
This week in Eugene, questions were asked of Lanning when rumors began swirling about his possible interest in the Texas A&M job.
"The reality here is my name, and our program would never be a topic of conversation for another school if we didn’t have something here that everybody else wanted," Lanning said. "I've got unfinished business here. There’s a lot that I want to accomplish here at Oregon. My number one priority is being elite."
Senior quarterback Bo Nix, a likely Heisman finalist, is having a monster year for the Ducks. Nix has thrown for 3,135 yards, 29 touchdowns, and only 2 INTs. He also has run for 121 yards and five touchdowns.
The Ducks have plenty of weapons at the disposal of Nix, most importantly being junior running back Bucky Irving. The Ducks bell cow has 939 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground to complement his 329 yards and one touchdown through the air.
On the defensive side of the ball, Oregon ranks 18th nationally in total defense. Coming off playing UCLA, the 10th-ranked defense in the country, expect Dillingham to dig deep into his bag of tricks to throw off his former team. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. MST on FOX.
Edited by Alfred Smith III, Walker Smith and Caera Learmonth.