We have our first look at Arizona State and, as practice starts in a little over a week, some basketball news. Read on.
• Here's the first look at ASU ...
• Arizona State at Washington State
Time: 2 p.m. (PDT) Saturday. TV: None
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.
Key matchup: 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
• And here's a note about the first basketball practice, courtesy of Jessica Schmick in the sports information department.
The Washington State University men’s and women’s basketball teams will kick off the 2009-10 basketball season with Midnight Mayhem, Friday, Oct. 16, following the volleyball match against USC in Bohler Gym.
Returning to Pullman after a brief hiatus, Midnight Mayhem helps usher in the new basketball season on the first official day of practice. The event is open to the public and free of charge. Cougar fans are encouraged to attend the volleyball team’s match against USC which begins at 7 p.m. Currently ranked 25th in the country, the Cougars hold a 14-1 overall record and are 3-1 in Pacific-10 Conference play.
WSU men’s head coach Ken Bone and women’s head coach June Daugherty will be on hand to address the crowd and introduce the teams. The women’s team will compete in a 3-point contest, while the men will partake in a dunk contest followed by a scrimmage. Following the scrimmage, this season’s men’s and women’s basketball posters will be available and both teams will be on hand to sign autographs. The event wraps up around 11:15 p.m.
Doors open at 9:30 p.m. for Midnight Mayhem, but free food is available in PEB following the volleyball match for those who arrive early. Any students interested, who haven’t done so already, will have the opportunity to sign up to become a member of the ZZU Cru at Midnight Mayhem.
• That's it for now. I'll be back in the morning with links. Until then …