SOC – Arizona State September 7, 2012
All I can think about is 9:30 pm in the desert. As in, I typically spend all of my time on Fridays wondering if our defensive ends can hold the edge against a running team or if our tight ends are good enough blockers to boost the run game. Today, all I thought about were the circumstances surrounding the game.
Remember the Fresno State game two years ago? The game we easily should have won? What was it, 16-0 Fresno before we could blink? 9:30 at night, playing on the west coast, entering the stadium like we’re ready to roll but in reality half-asleep due to the late start. OK, now take that game and put it in the desert. That’s our game tomorrow.
Arizona in 1996? Mark Hoekstra 5 interceptions in one quarter. I remember feeling really confident about that game as the one that would get us on track after our shaky start. And then 41-0 Arizona. Forty one to nothing.
The desert night game is a big reason Arizona State has such a solid record at home vs. a poor record on the road. I saw these stat’s in Loren Tate’s article yesterday:
They (Arizona State) were 5-2 at home and 1-5 on the road last season, 23-12 vs. 8-19 during the last five years, and 46-21 vs. 21-37 in the past decade.
That’s as wide a disparity as exists in college football. In the last five years, 23 of their 31 wins were at home. Tell me that’s not because of the desert. Some teams have a home field advantage – Arizona state has a home climate advantage.
So it’s hard for me to evaluate anything with this game. “Will Scheelhaase play?” Who cares? We’re in the desert and won’t get done until 1:00 am our time – no chance we win this one. That kind of thing.
So many things seem to stack up against us this week:
+ Our starting quarterback left the field on a cart with ice on his ankle last week.
+ Arizona State wants revenge after last year.
+ 9:30 pm, in the desert.
+ We’re still shuffling players trying to find the correct offensive line.
+ We’re in week 2 of installing this offense and defense.
And I haven’t mentioned the kicker yet: Ron West. Remember him? Vic Koenning’s right hand man? The guy who taught the bandits (Buchanan and company) and the Busseybackers (Nate Bussey, Trulon Henry) how to get all hybrid-y in Koenning’s defense? Well, West is now the co-defensive coordinator at Arizona State.
Which means he knows all of our offensive weaknesses. He knows which offensive linemen to overload and blitz. He knows the tendencies of the tailbacks. And if Nate can’t go (and I’m still in the camp that Nate is out this week and next), he knows how to attack O’Toole and Osei. Sure, our offense has changed. But he knows each and every weak spot, and he’ll be on the attack.
So because of all of that, here’s how I see the game going:
Our defense plays surprisingly well. Forces a lot of punts. But we still give up 27 points because our offense keeps giving ASU a short field. The offense does come alive under Miles Osei in the second half, cutting a 20-3 Arizona State lead to 20-17, but Osei’s inexperience rears it’s head and he throws a crucial interception in the fourth quarter. Arizona State scores with that short field, and our comeback is shot.
Arizona State 27, Illinois 17