Arizona-Arizona State preview: A by-the-numbers lookby Anthony Gimino on Dec. 02, 2010, under Sports
Game day. Arizona is likely headed to the Alamo Bowl with a victory. ASU hasn’t given up on its bowl hopes, even if it takes an act of God (the NCAA) to do so.
The Wildcats are trying to avoid a four-game losing streak to end the regular season. “We’re frustrated and determined at the same time,” UA coach Mike Stoops said.
The Sun Devils are trying to avoid a three-game losing streak in the series. “I have been in a lot of other rivalries and this is as big as any,” ASU coach Dennis Erickson said.
Let’s go to the numbers:
0 — Sacks for the Arizona defense in the past three games. Blame it on the quality of the opponents’ offensive lines, their deceptive schemes, mobile quarterbacks … whatever. It can’t happen again. Arizona State’s offensive line isn’t that great, its spread offense isn’t that deceptive and Brock Osweiler isn’t exactly Darron Thomas.
Stoops says ASU likes to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand quickly (not unlike what the Wildcats do). OK, then. Let’s see UA take its chances and have the cornerbacks crowd the receivers, making Osweiler hold the ball long enough for the pressure to get to him.
Senior defensive ends Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed need to go out in sack-master style.
1 — Case of hyperbole from Erickson. Look, I think I appreciate the elite skills of Arizona junior receiver Juron Criner as much as anyone, but I don’t think I would go as far as Erickson. He said this week that Criner “is a playmaker like I have never seen.” That’s a little much.
Erickson also said Criner “is probably as good as a receiver as there is in college football.” There are a couple of exceptions, but, OK, that basically rings true.
3 — Kickoff returns for touchdowns for Arizona State this season, all by different players … and the Sun Devils had another return stopped inside the Wisconsin 1-yard line. ASU is fast, these guys are scary, and UA kickoff man John Bonano needs to blast a few into the end zone (which hasn’t happened all that frequently).
3.5 — The over-under line on the combined personal foul penalties Thursday night between ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict and Arizona safety Adam Hall. It’s so bad for Burfict that he’s now getting personal fouls for arguing about personal fouls.
6 — Senior Nic Grigsby’s place on Arizona’s career rushing list. There was a time early last season when he was on pace to challenge Trung Candidate’s school record of 3,824 yards. Injuries and a subsequent time share with Keola Antolin crushed those thoughts.
But Grigsby, returning last week from an ankle injury, played well and ran hard at Oregon. He’s a senior; he appears healthy; he’s motivated. Get him the ball.
9 — Losses on the road for Arizona State in its past 12 tries. Do you really want to lose to these guys at home?
10 — Wins against Arizona State by current Arizona special teams coordinator/defensive ends coach Jeff Hammerschmidt as a player (1986-90) and assistant coach (1993-95, 2008-present). That’s 10 wins and only one loss … which came in 1992 when he was a grad assistant.
15 — Catches for UA sophomore receiver Terrence Miller in the past two games for 212 yards. He had seven receptions through nine games. Taking advantage of Bug Wright’s absence (still out because of indefinite suspension), the 6-4 Miller is valuable to the team as the over-the-middle threat that Arizona has missed since Rob Gronkowski last suited up in 2008.
“I’m not really surprised when I get the ball, just more ready,” Miller said. “I’ve just been ready.”
23 — Victories for Arizona in the past three seasons. Only Oregon and USC have more among Pac-10 teams (Stanford also has 23).
33 — Days it has been since Arizona’s last victory, 29-12 at UCLA. “I’m not pleased with the way we’ve competed in some of these games over the last month,” Stoops said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve won. Hopefully, we can take our frustrations out on our next opponent, which just happens to be Arizona State.”
44 — Arizona’s margin of defeat this season against Stanford and Oregon. ASU lost to those two teams by a combined 15 points. Not all of that difference can be explained by ASU getting those teams at home, and the Cats having to play them on the road.
50-50 — Chances that ASU’s John Jefferson actually made “The Catch” in the end zone in 1975. Can we go to the super slow-mo high def replay? No? Well, let the debate rage …
150 — Passes attempted by Arizona’s Nick Foles in the past three games. Too many? Where the heck is the running game? Does it matter if the Wildcats are moving the ball? Oh yeah, the Wildcats have to do much better in the red zone.
380 — Passing yards for ASU’s Osweiler off the bench last week in relief of an injured Steven Threet. Osweiler, a sophomore, will make his second career start, the first of the season, Thursday night. The ASU offense doesn’t change with the switch in quarterbacks, and Osweiler’s inexperience might be offset by the jolt of excitement he gave the Devils last week.
And then there’s his 6-8 height.
“It’s lovely,” ASU wide receiver Mike Willie told the L.A. Daily News after last week’s game against UCLA. “He can see everything. If he can see everything, I can see everything, and we’re on the same page. Man, it’s lovely.”
40,000 – Dollars that Stoops will earn in bonuses if the Cats win Thursday night.
He earns $30,000 if the Wildcats finish 16th through 25th in the final BCS standings. Arizona is hanging in at No. 23 this week, but would fall out with a loss. And Stoops’ victory bonus increases from $30,000 to $40,000 if UA goes from seven to eight wins in a regular season.
An extra 40 large on top of a $1.1 million contract? Pretty nice post-Thanksgiving gravy.