First look: WSU vs. Arizona State
Time: 2 p.m. Saturday. TV: None
Site: Martin Stadium, Pullman
The records: WSU (1-4, 0-3 in Pac-10); Arizona State (2-2; 0-1)
Last week: ASU lost to Oregon State, 28-17; WSU lost to Oregon, 52-6
Last time: ASU defeated WSU, 31-0, in Tempe last season.
The line: ASU by 19.5
What it means for WSU
After getting run out of Autzen Stadium last week, the Cougars need to prove that game was an aberration, not a harbinger of games to come. There were some good reasons for the offense’s lack of yards against the Ducks, but if Brian Danaher and, even more importantly, Zack Williams return at guard this week, the line should be improved. But that might not be enough against an ASU rush defense that yields just 75 yards a game. On the other side of the ball, WSU’s defense needs to do what Oregon State did in Tempe last Saturday: shut down the Devils’ running game and force them to be one-dimensional.
What it means for ASU
Though the Sun Devils’ defense has been stout all season – that group is third in the nation statistically – the offense has struggled the past two weeks. Against a WSU rushing defense that is last in the Pac-10, the offensive line must show it can open holes for Dimitri Nance and company. They haven’t been able to yet this year, with the Cougars the only Pac-10 school that has rushed for fewer yards per game than ASU. The line hasn’t done a much better job protecting quarterback Danny Sullivan, either. Though ASU quarterbacks have been sacked only seven times, Sullivan was under constant pressure against OSU.
WSU defensive end Travis Long vs. ASU left tackle Shawn Lauvao.
The true freshman Long is the Cougars’ best bet to put pressure on Sullivan. But to get to the quarterback, he’ll have to get past the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Lauvao. A little short for a tackle, Lauvao had played guard for most of his ASU career before being installed on the outside for good this season. He is better at run blocking than pass protection, as he’s able to use his girth to an advantage. Long, 6-4, 247 pounds, needs to use his quickness to put Lauvao at a disadvantage. If Long allows the tackle to get to him, it could be a long day. Though Long has just two sacks this season, he’s been the WSU player who has supplied pressure on the quarterback.
– Vince Grippi