2-Minute Drill: Jacob Thorpe’s keys to a possible WSU victory over Arizona State today:
1. Contain Taylor Kelly. A year ago, Arizona State’s quarterback was nearly unstoppable against the Cougars, throwing just three incomplete passes in 23 attempts and tossing four touchdowns. Kelly is the unquestioned leader of ASU’s offense and has drawn praise from the WSU coaching staff for his ability to elevate the play of his teammates. If the Cougars allow Kelly to get comfortable, it will be a long day for the defense.
2. Air it out. The Sun Devils are one of the best teams in the country at defending the pass. Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday set an FBS record with 89 passes attempted in WSU’s last game. The Cougars are going to throw the ball around, and will need to find a weakness in the ASU secondary if they’re going to put points on the scoreboard.
3. Get great field position. The Cougars have benefitted from one of the conference’s best return games with both kick returner Teondray Caldwell and punt returner Leon Brooks ranking in the top five of the Pac-12 at their respective positions. Some big returns – or even a score – would make things a lot easier for the WSU offense.
4. Play great red zone defense. The Sun Devils are the only Pac-12 team with a red zone conversion rate of better than 90 percent. The Cougars have played great defense this year but will be tested by ASU running back Marion Grice, who already has 12 rushing touchdowns this season thanks to his goal-line abilities.