Arizona State has already taken down one top-10 opponent this season and is looking to take down their second this Saturday against No. 4 Utah.
The Devils are coming off of a 48-23 win over Colorado, and Pac-12 Network analyst Jake Plummer told Bickley & Marotta on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that he enjoys what he’s seeing from Todd Graham’s team.
“I like the way [ASU] is going about their business,” Plummer said. “They seem to have gotten back to just getting ready to play football and focusing just on what they can do.”
That’s good timing for the Devils, who face their toughest challenge yet in Utah. The Utes are undefeated on the season and are in the conversation for a playoff berth.
“They are going to get tested,” Plummer said of the Sun Devils before turning his focus to Utah.
“This is one of the best defenses in the country. They have been for a few years now. Their speed on the perimeter, their defensive capabilities of covering receivers down field. Their linebackers, [Jared] Norris and [Gionni] Paul, play extremely well. Their front four guys are stout. They’re going to make you work for it.”
How the Sun Devils go about beating that defense comes down to balance according to Plummer.
“Use those running backs. I like seeing Kalen Ballage get his feet under him a little bit more and become more of a weapon. You’re going to use D.J. Foster, get him involved however you can. Use [Mike Bercovici’s] legs to keep them honest.”
However, there is one specific X-Factor that Plummer wants to see get involved.
“Keep using Tim White, that kid’s outstanding. Get him the ball as much as you can to loosen things up,” Plummer said.
White has scored a touchdown in four out of the five games he has played for the Sun Devils this season. The junior receiver is always a big play threat and he proved that more than ever against Colorado, with seven receptions for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
When it comes to quarterback play, Plummer recalls his conversations with Bercovici to get more mobile.
“I talked to him a few times and said ‘you got to use your legs. They are going to be shocked when they see you do it, but you got to use your legs. That opens up the run game, that opens up that offense, and allows it to perform at a lot higher level,'” Plummer said.
The Arizona State quarterback has done just that lately. Bercovici has 10+ yard gains on the ground in two straight games, including his 34-yard touchdown run against UCLA. ASU will need that versatility out of Bercovici to beat the Utes.
“You got to know your assignments, play hard football, and trust each other,” Plummer said.
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