1 Find No. 5. Last year Junior Onyeali made a reputation at the expense of the Cougars’ John Fullington. This year, the sophomore Arizona State defensive end hasn’t bolstered his pass-rushing credentials – he had three sacks against WSU in Tempe as a freshman – after suffering an injury in the Devils’ fourth game and only returning a couple of weeks ago. But he’s quick enough to cause the Cougars’ line trouble today all by himself.
2 Control Cameron Marshall. The Sun Devils’ junior running back has been a scoring machine this season, getting into the end zone 13 times – all on runs. In case you’re interested, the Cougars, as a team, have 12 rushing touchdowns. And it’s not like Marshall’s only able to power it in from the 1-yard line, though the 5-foot-11, 223-pounder can do that. But he also has a 70-yard scoring run this season.
3 Take advantage of the Sun Devils’ turnovers. Notice the certainty here. With a temperature somewhere in the low 30s and a probability of wet conditions, ASU is going to cough up the ball. The Cougars need to pounce on it and, when it’s in their possession, do something with it. If the defense can’t score itself off the miscues, the offense needs to – and score with touchdowns, not just Andrew Furney field goals.
4 Play with fire. When the Cougars run onto the turf and play as if their football careers depend on each play, they are a good football team. Not great, but good enough to compete with everyone on their schedule. But when they play with a wandering intensity, as was the case last week in San Francisco, they are not very good. They need to play with heart, with focus and with execution to inspire the Dad’s Weekend crowd in Martin Stadium.