Arizona State searching for complete game at home against USC
Responding to adversity has never been more important than it is this week for this version of the Arizona State football program.
Two embarrassing results in as many games have the Sun Devils seeking a complete football game against USC on Saturday night.
ASU has failed to put a complete game together against Utah and Washington State. Against the Utes before a bye week, a second-half implosion led to the Sun Devils being shut out 28-0 in the last two quarters of a 35-21 loss. Against the Cougars after the bye, offensive miscues throughout the first half put ASU behind 28-0 before ending up with a 34-21 loss.
USC got back in the win column on their Homecoming last weekend against Arizona. However, it wasn’t the smoothest game for the Trojans. USC’s defense gave up 466 yards against the Wildcats. USC’s 547 yards on offense were just enough in a 41-34 victory.
What: USC (4-4, 3-3) vs. Arizona State (5-3, 3-2)
When: Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Betting Line via FanDuel: ASU -9.5
Radio: ESPN 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2
Sun Devil players, coaching staff looking for answers to bad form
A boo-filled Saturday afternoon on Homecoming last weekend has ASU head coach Herm Edwards and the rest of the team looking for how to get back to winning ways. Edwards believes that ASU needs a quality start.
“We got to to get it going early offensively and defensively and then just play a full game,” Edwards said. “We haven’t played a full game.”
They will, though, have a full stadium. Arizona State announced Wednesday that tickets to the USC game Saturday sold out.
Last week, ASU neither played a full game nor got off to a good start against WSU. Three turnovers in ASU’s first three possessions kicked off a disastrous afternoon.
The Sun Devils also failed to play a full game in their last meeting against USC in 2020’s season opener. ASU’s defense gave up two touchdowns in just over 90 seconds late in the fourth quarter. No response from the offense turned a game in which ASU had a 99.9% win probability with three minutes left into a 28-27 loss.
In regards to the first half against WSU this past week, the answers are not there.
“I have no answer for that except the fact that it happened to us and we didn’t react in a way to give us a chance,” Edwards said.
That isn’t the most promising response, especially with an opponent coming up that the ASU roster is very familiar with. Many of ASU’s players have ties to the Southern California area.
“This is always kind of one of those games,” Edwards said. “A lot of these guys know each other. There’s always some chippiness it seems when these two teams get together.”
Chippy games are the last thing this ASU team needs. The Sun Devils are already among the most penalized teams in the country with 9.25 penalties per game.
USC without London, but with possible two-QB system
The good news for the ASU defense is that it will not have to deal with one of the best wide receivers in the country.
USC junior wide receiver Drake London was ruled out for the rest of the season on Sunday with a fractured right ankle injury. London’s 135.5 receiving yards per game is third in FBS football. He has a 60-yard gap to the second place receiver in the Pac-12.
“You hate for any player to be injured, but a guy like that who obviously has a lot of potential to play in the NFL, you hate for that to happen to a guy,” Edwards said.
The not-so-great news for the ASU defense is it may need to prepare for two quarterbacks before Saturday night.
Junior quarterback Kedon Slovis is USC’s talented starter. The Scottsdale native leads the Pac-12 with 252.8 passing yards per game and is the only Pac-12 quarterback to reach 2,000 passing yards so far this season. He is second in the Pac-12 only to ASU junior quarterback Jayden Daniels with a 65.8% completion percentage.
Another young quarterback has emerged in recent weeks for USC. Freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart played well back in September when Slovis got hurt against WSU. Dart completed 30 of 46 passes for 391 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.
Dart played four possessions against Arizona last week and completed 12 of 18 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
USC interim head coach Donte Williams said after its game against the Wildcats that he planned on both quarterbacks playing then. As for this week in Tempe against the Sun Devils?
“We have confidence in both of them,” Williams said. “We’ll continue to do what we need to do to win the football game. That’s what we felt we needed to do to beat Arizona. So we’ll look at what we need to do to beat Arizona State.”