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ASU’s Graham on showdown with Notre Dame: ‘We focus on us’

When Arizona State plays Notre Dame on Saturday, it will be the Sun Devils’ highest profile game in years. While ASU has been open about the distractions playing a well-known school at such a large stadium, head coach Todd Graham said that the team is focusing solely on themselves leading up to the game.

Graham told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf Friday that when getting his players motivated for a big game, he avoids talking about their opponent.

“I don’t spend much time focusing on the other team or any things like that because I don’t think the kids really care about all that,” Graham said. They care about winning the football game. They care about the goals that are in front of them and the investment they put into things. We focus on us.”

Graham said he keeps the Sun Devils centered on themselves because his team is still susceptible to sloppy mistakes and not playing to their true ability.

“We are extremely talented, but we do not play to that talent when it comes to discipline all the time,” Graham said. “And it’s because we’re just in the early stages of developing things and we’ve got to move that forward very quickly. So the last thing we need to be doing is focusing on anything outside our program.”

He said the team has made at least five critical mistakes on defense in every game this year, which he defines as things like missed assignments and blown coverage, and added his squad still suffers from special teams woes.

In order to top Notre Dame, Graham said they need to prevent another showing like at Stanford where they were behind 29 points at the half.

“The key for us in this game is to mentally focus on doing our job, focus on our team,” Graham said. “If you always do that, you give yourself the best chance to win.”