Oklahoma State vs. Arizona State preview: Can the Sun Devils learn from Week 1 hiccups?

Sep 8, 2023, 7:10 PM

Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports...

Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports

It’s not entirely fair to downplay Arizona State’s 24-21 victory over Southern Utah in week 1.

It was a tale of two halves.

The Sun Devils looked competent in the first half, and after a two-and-a-half-hour lightning delay that included strong winds, dust and seemingly never-ending rain, the team slept-walked through the second half.

Rookie head coach Kenny Dillingham learned that he has to prepare for unforeseen circumstances like the ones presented to him last Thursday, as a soggy, yet successful, debut for the 33-year-old left him questioning how he can better prepare his team.

“We have guys who have homework assignments due at noon the next day, at 1 (p.m.) the next day, that they were going to do in the morning,” Dillingham told reporters last week. “We’ve been up there for two hours and they bust out their computer because we don’t know what’s going to happen.

“Winning is hard and you should be excited about it, but you should never be satisfied if you don’t play your best game. I think you saw guys up here that were not satisfied.”

A quick turnaround is imperative as the Oklahoma State Cowboys (1-0) take on the Sun Devils on Saturday at Mountain America Stadium. Here’s a look into this week’s matchup:

Oklahoma State’s 3-quarterback competition

Oklahoma State is expected to use three different quarterbacks on Saturday, as head coach Mike Gundy is still trying to figure out which quarterback to roll with for the season.

Alan Bowman, Gunnar Gundy and Garret Rangel are all expected to see snaps. The latter two outperformed Bowman in the team’s 27-13 win over Central Arkansas last week.

Rangel went 10 of 15 for 118 yards and a touchdown, Gundy went 7 of 9 for 106 yards and Bowman went 13 of 24 for 80 yards in the opener.

Gunnar Gundy is the son of coach Mike Gundy and led the Cowboys to back-to-back touchdown drives in the fourth quarter to prevent an upset in which they were the 25.5-point favorite.

The matchup with feature two freshmen quarterbacks in Arizona State’s Jaden Rashada and Oklahoma State’s Rangel.

While an offensive scheme of three quarterbacks may seem worrisome, Dillingham emphasized how the team just needs to adapt to the quarterback’s similar schemes.

“They’re going to run the same schemes with all three of them in the game,” Dillingham said. “If they’re going to be the same schematically with all three, then there’s not much of a defensive schematic change. … We’ve just got to be able to adapt to what they’re doing well.”

Can Jaden Rashada continue to impress?

Arizona State’s Rashada showed promise in week 1, throwing for 236 yards and two touchdowns in his first collegiate game.

He showcased his deep accuracy when he completed a 47-yard pass to receiver Xavier Guillory for a touchdown, extending the team’s first-half lead before a monsoon halted the team’s momentum.

The second half, like the rest of the team, was a different story. Rashada was 6 of 15 for 54 yards and no touchdowns.

“I think in the second half, it was hard for (Rashada) to get back warmed up and back into rhythm,” Dillingham said. “When he was in a rhythm and rolling, he’s super talented. I was really happy with his demeanor throughout the game.

“As a true freshman playing in that environment … his demeanor was something that impressed me.”

Despite the second-half struggles, Rashada managed to stay composed until the end and will look to keep improving against a more talented Oklahoma State team.

The forecast

As Sun Devil fans know, it can get pretty hot.

A Saturday high temperature of 112 degrees can potentially set a record for hottest temperature at kickoff, which is currently projected at 108 degrees.

The current record for the hottest kickoff temperature at Mountain America Stadium (2000-present) is 107 degrees, set on Sept. 5, 2013, when the Sun Devils shut out Sacramento State 55-0.

The record-setting game in 2013 kicked off at 7 p.m., while the matchup against OSU on Saturday is at 7:30 p.m.

Will the fans show up?

Arizona State’s average attendance last season sunk below 40,000 for the first time since 2002. While Oklahoma State’s fanbase is known for its road presence, Dillingham is urging Sun Devil fans to come out and create a loud atmosphere.

Attendance was sparse during the second half of week 1 due to the weather, but Arizona State’s annual “Blackout” game is scheduled for this Saturday, likely drawing fans to support the team that has a fine history in blackout games.

“Can we sell this place out? Can we create a home-field advantage?” Dillingham said. “Because that’s what this is really about. We have a chance to play a game, it could be 102 degrees, we could kick off at 7 [p.m.], we could have 14,000 students, we could sell out and we could really, really create a competitive advantage for our guys. And I think people underestimate the value of that.”

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