Our 2014 opponent previews continue with a look at Washington’s game against Arizona State, the reigning Pac-12 South division champions.
ARIZONA STATE AT WASHINGTON, Saturday, Oct. 25 (Kickoff time TBA)
STADIUM: This game is at Husky Stadium, obviously. ASU plays at Sun Devil Stadium, which seats 71,706.
ASU LOCATION: Tempe, Ariz. (Population 168,228)
ENROLLMENT: 59,382, one of the largest undergraduate enrollments in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.
MASCOT: The Sun Devils.
2013 RECORD: 10-4 (8-1 in Pac-12). The Sun Devils won the Pac-12 South division title, then lost to Stanford in the conference championship game. ASU also lost to Texas Tech, 37-23, in the Holiday Bowl. Its only regular-season Pac-12 loss was also to Stanford.
COACH: Todd Graham (18-9 in two seasons at ASU; 67-38 in eight seasons overall)
RETURNING STARTERS: 10 (6 on offense, 2 on defense, and 2 on special teams, according to the Pac-12 prospectus)
KEY RETURNERS: QB Taylor Kelly (Sr.) (302-for-484 passing for 3,635 yards, 28 TDs and 12 INTs in 2013; 173 carries, 608 yards, 9 TDs); WR Jaelen Strong (Jr.) (75 catches, 1,122 yards, 11 TDs), RB D.J. Foster (Jr.) (93 carries, 501 yards, 6 TDs); OL Jamil Douglas (Sr.) (Started every game the past two seasons); LB Salamo Fiso (So.) (71 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3 sacks); DB Damarious Randall (Sr.) (71 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3 INTs); K Zane Gonzalez (So.) (25-for-30 on FG attempts, long of 44; 63-of-65 on PATs)
KEY LOSSES: RB Marion Grice (191 carries, 996 yards, 14 TDs; 50 catches, 438 yards, 6 TDs); TE Chris Coyle (29 catches, 423 yards, 4 TDs); DL Carl Bradford (61 tackles, 19 TFL, 8.5 sacks, INT); DL Will Sutton (48 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 4 sacks, INT); DL Davon Coleman (58 tackles, 15 TFL, 8.5 sacks); LB Chris Young (112 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks); DB Alden Darby (72 tackles, 2 TFL, 4 INTs); DB Robert Nelson (57 tackles, 6 INTs); DB Osahan Irabor (54 tackles, 5.5 TFL, sack, 3 INTs)
2013 STATISTICAL RANKS: 10th in Scoring Offense (39.7 points per game); 32nd in Total Offense (457.3 yards per game); 32nd in Passing Offense (265.9 ypg); 40th in Rushing Offense (191.4 ypg); 63rd in Scoring Defense (26.6 ppg); 42nd in Total Defense (372.4 ypg); 71st in Passing Yards Allowed (234.7 ypg); 26th in Rushing Defense (137.6 ypg)
BIGGEST 2014 PRIORITY: With Kelly back, the Sun Devils again have a reliable leader of Graham’s fast-paced offense — especially with leading receiver Strong returning, even if do-everything back Grice has moved on. Foster might be a worthy replacement there, though he has competition. But as you can see from all those “key losses,” the defense loses a ton of talent. ASU finished with 40 sacks in 2013, good for third in the Pac-12. Players who accounted for 34 of those sacks are gone. So, too, are the players who accounted for 17 of ASU’s league-leading 21 interceptions. ASU’s frightening defensive front that included Sutton, Bradford, Coleman and Young, among others? It will have to be rebuilt with players who lack much game experience, with Fiso the only returning player from last year’s starting front seven. As the great Doug Haller notes here, Graham doesn’t believe the sky is falling, and thinks there are younger players on ASU’s roster who are capable of filling those holes.
SCHEDULE NOTES: ASU begins the 2014 season with its first-ever game against Weber State (on a Thursday), then travels to New Mexico in Week 2. The Sun Devils’ final nonconference game is a Nov. 8 home game against Notre Dame — a date, you’ll remember, that ASU had to fight to preserve.
WASHINGTON-ASU ROSTER TIES: Jordan Simone, a Sammamish native and the younger brother of former Washington State receiver Gino Simone, is a defensive back for the Sun Devils. He transferred from WSU prior to the 2012 season. ASU also lists on its roster LB Lucas Revelle, who is from Arlington, Wash.
UW-ASU HISTORY: ASU leads the relatively young all-time series, 16-15. The Sun Devils’ 53-24 victory over UW in Tempe last season matched the most lopsided ASU victory in the history of the series. The Huskies haven’t beaten ASU since 2001 — UW’s longest winless drought against any Pac-12 opponent, Oregon included — though the teams didn’t meet in 2003, 2004, 2011 or 2012, so it’s “only” an eight-game losing streak.
ASU’s BEST SEASON: ASU does not claim any national championships, but came quite close in 1996. QB Jake Plummer led the Sun Devils to an undefeated regular season and the Pac-10 championship before the Sun Devils lost, 20-17, to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Had the Sun Devils won, they likely would have been voted No. 1 in at least one of the major polls. ASU actually played its season opener against the Huskies that year, holding on for a 45-42 victory in Tempe. That wound up UW’s only Pac-10 loss that season.
NOTABLE NON-FOOTBALL GRADS: Best list I could find was from Wikipedia. Some highlights: David Spade, actor; Al Michaels, broadcaster; Jimmy Kimmel, late-night talk show host (Kimmel attended but did not graduate)
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple