ASU preps for QB battle against 1-dimensional Washington State offense
Nov 8, 2022, 6:15 PM | Updated: Nov 11, 2022, 10:43 am
(Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
TEMPE — The Arizona State Sun Devils officially have their backs up against the wall now when it comes to bowl eligibility.
At 3-6 (2-4 in the Pac-12), ASU must win out against Washington State (5-4, 2-4), Oregon State and Arizona in order to be playing in the postseason.
The first battle comes in a cold road test in Pullman against a rather one-dimensional Cougars offense, which relies heavily on the arm of quarterback Cameron Ward, as WSU has the fourth-fewest total rushing attempts in the country.
“Here we go again, another quarterback,” ASU defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson said Monday.
Ward transferred to Washington State this offseason from FCS school Incarnate Word in San Antonio, joining his former head coach Eric Morris after traded his spot in charge of the program for the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach job in Pullman.
The QB takes over for former Cougars signal caller Jayden de Laura, who transferred his dual-threat talents to join the Arizona Wildcats.
“They’re almost similar but they do some things different than they did last year,” Henderson said. “They’ll be in (four wide receiver looks) a lot, spread you out, throw the ball around.”
In nine career appearances at the FBS level, Ward is averaging 262.2 yards per game while completing 64% of his passes. That’s largely due to the Cougars having the 16th-most pass attempts in the nation with 342 while being tied for 26th with 20 passing touchdowns.
Meanwhile, WSU’s 107.9 rushing yards per game rank 114th in the country, with the team’s leading rusher Nakia Watson averaging 70.1 per contest. Luckily for Henderson and Co., they won’t have to worry about Ward’s legs too much, as he has only mustered a total of 34 yards on the ground on 67 attempts to average 0.5 per rush and 3.8 per game this season.
“This is what they do, they throw the ball around,” Henderson said. “So having and putting a game plan together now and some of the things we’re looking at is trying to make sure we don’t give the same looks in the secondary and disguise a little bit more. I think those things come into play a lot when you have those quarterbacks who can throw the ball around.”
The weather also isn’t shaping up to be as bad as it could be for desert dwellers traveling up to the Pacific Northwest, as the forecast calls for sunny skies, 5 mph winds and a high of 37 degrees.
Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.