Throughout the season, the ASU Devils Den football podcast has its “Three Tines to the Game.” In honor of the tines on Sparky’s pitchfork, this podcast segment focuses on three keys to a game. In this case, we cover the three key items for ASU to achieve against the Wisconsin Badgers on #BlackoutBucky Saturday night at 7:30PM.
First Tine of the Game: Stop the Run
Wisconsin has a terrific rushing attack, and the focus of 2013 for the Sun Devil defense has been to make drastic improvements in the run defense. It was rarely talked about publicly last season, but ASU was not able to stop the run in their critical match-ups. The defensive front seven must contain that rushing attack, and Will Sutton and Carl Bradford have to lead them. It has to be the front seven because the minute ASU starts sneaking a safety down into the box, Wisconsin will use their play-action pass attack. Second team defensive lineman Mo Latu and Marcus Hardison need to be ready to contribute. Also, let’s not forget that a successful rushing attack for Wisconsin chews up the clock and keeps Taylor Kelly and the dynamic Sun Devil offense off the field.
Second Tine of the Game: Special Teams
In close games between top tier programs, the games often come down to the details. Freshman placekicker Zane Gonzalez and walk-on junior punter Dom Vizzare must kick well. Vizzare must get solid punts of the change field position when necessary, and Gonzalez must hit his field goals so points go on the board. Defensive field position and hitting the fields goals are details that make a difference for top tier programs.
Third Tine of the Game: Keep the Crowd In It
ASU marketing is going all-out with an internet #BlackoutBucky campaign, and the game is several thousand tickets away from a sell-out. The first-ever Blackout was a sensational Sun Devil victory over nationally ranked Missouri in overtime. The crowd stayed in it throughout the hot night, and the first Blackout crowd made Sun Devil Stadium shake during overtime. That same energy is needed from the crowd to help the Sun Devils to victory this week against Wisconsin. A loud crowd can cause the Wisconsin offensive line to false start. ASU needs to score first to fire up the crowd, and with the help of the sell-out crowd, the visiting Badgers could get demoralized early.
There are some other key points to Saturday night like the secondary staying home and not falling for play action, the offensive line improving its running game performance, Taylor Kelly exploiting our matchup advantages, and the fans staying loud throughout the game, but these three are the “ASU Devils Den Three Tines of the Game.”