It’s finally here. It’s Game Week for college football fans nationwide. ASU is one of the few teams that gets an early jump on the season by playing on Thursday night. The rest of the country opens up on Saturday.
Here are some keys to victory for ASU as they host the visiting Weber State on Thursday night. Kickoff is at 7:30 and will be televised on the PAC-12 network.
1) Pressure the Quarterback Without Blitzing
This is a common dream for defensive coordinators. Being able to get to the QB or make him hurry with only four guys rushing is a huge advantage for a defense. It allows the other seven defenders to cover 5 eligible receivers. That’s tough sledding for an offense. While it may be unrealistic to expect to get pressure on the QB without blitzing when you are playing comparable teams, it is not unrealistic to get that pressure against a team like Weber State. No offense to them, but this ASU defense should be more physical than Weber State. It would be a good omen of things to come if this new, young defense can pressure the quarterback without using creative stunts, blitzes and complicated, disguised coverages.
2) Be on Guard for Trick Plays
Typically, in games like this, the underdog team (Weber State) pulls out all the stops by reaching into their bag of tricks to try to catch the favored team off guard. ASU needs to be wary of fake punts, fake field goals, reverses on kickoff return and trick plays on offense.
3) Establish an Attitude on the Offensive Line
It’s imperative in any game, but it’s a must at home; the offensive line must set the tone for who is boss at the line of scrimmage. This re-tooled offensive line has to make a statement immediately. They have to move bodies to create running lanes for DJ Foster and company. They’ll need to have perfect pass protection to keep Taylor Kelly’s jersey clean. Ideally, against an opponent like Weber State, ASU won’t need phenomenal play from Kelly and the other skill players. They should be able to just get a hat on a hat and grind their way down the field.
4) View this as a Regular Game
This may sound silly, but it’s crucial. These ASU players cannot come out to play this game viewing Weber State as a “tune-up” or some kind of practice scrimmage. This is a legitimate college football opponent that must be respected and it demands your absolute best effort. Even though ASU is the favorite and picked to win, they must still play with hunger and great intensity and concentration.
The flip side of that coin is to not get too excited to play this game. Performance anxiety can be a problem for young college players. This is the first time they’ll get to mix it up with somebody besides their own teammates in practice since December. This is real now. No matter how good or bad their opponent is, players can still get nervous or overhyped when they are finally playing against someone in a different jersey in a packed stadium. That level of anxiety can cause players to do silly things.
It falls on the coaching staff and the team leaders to find the balance between being too high and too low for this game. It will fall on the leadership all season long. But game one is the toughest. It’ll be the first time the newcomers will be under fire. ASU just needs to approach this game with a business-like approach of focusing on their individual assignments and playing with great passion. If they do that, the results–the score and the stats will take care of themselves.
Tags: ASU Football