Sun Devil Notes: ASU to honor Kush before San Diego State game
Sun Devil Athletics is dedicating Saturday’s home game against San Diego State to former coach Frank Kush, who died on June 22.
“It’s a special week for us and a special week for me,” coach Todd Graham said Monday at his weekly press conference. “Obviously we’re honoring him the whole season with ‘Sun Devil Tough,’ but this week, obviously we’ll have the (retro) sunburst (logo) on the helmet and this will be the game we’re recognizing coach Kush — not just the greatest coach to ever coach here, but just what he meant in so many different ways to this university.”
Graham recalled a memory of touring ASU’s facilities and meeting Kush while Graham was coaching at Allen (Texas) High School. Graham’s former superintendent had moved to Scottsdale and was trying to convince him to coach in Arizona. The ASU tour was a surprise addition.
“He was just so gracious,” Graham said of Kush. “I just remember meeting and sitting there, took a picture with him and looked out the window and said, ‘wow, what an incredible place this is,’ not knowing that years later I’d be the head coach here.”
SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE
ASU’s competition takes a decisive step up this week when San Diego State comes to Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday, fresh off a 38-17 season-opening win over UC Davis.
The Aztecs have produced back-to-back 11-win seasons and they defeated Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl last season to finish ranked No. 25 in the nation. They have won two straight Mountain West Conference championships and two straight bowl games, after beating Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl, 42-7, two seasons ago.
“On the West Coast, when you look at a team that’s really achieved, obviously people talk about Boise State, but San Diego State has been very consistent,” Graham said.
San Diego State ranked 17th in the nation in scoring defense last season (20.2 points per game), 11th in total defense (315.4 yards per game), and sixth in the nation against the run, allowing 105.7 yards per game.
Graham described the Aztecs’ defense as an attacking front that looks to create negative plays. He called the San Diego State offense old school, “kind of a blend between Stanford and Washington’s power game.
“Ground and pound. They’re run, play-action pass and they’ve had great tailbacks. I think they’ve got great blocking backs. Their fullback’s a very good blocker; big guy. So they’re so very, very physical.”
— Graham said quarterback Brady White and long snapper Mitch Fraboni will represent ASU at the coin toss all year. “Two of our smarter guys out there. Can’t mess up the coin toss.”
— Graham said the players watched about three minutes of Pat Tillman highlights before they took the field for Thursday’s game against New Mexico State.
— Graham said he felt like ASU had Thursday’s game in hand after taking a 37-13 lead on New Mexico State early in the fourth quarter. After watching Texas A&M blow a 34-point lead at UCLA on Saturday, Graham said, grinning, that he might have a different feeling on that.