ASU Football: Devils looking to take advantage of downed Cardinal

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback Manny Wilkins
TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 23: Quarterback Manny Wilkins /

After a rejuvenating win against the Oregon Ducks, ASU football is at Stanford to take on the struggling Cardinal.

The Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2, 1-0) are coming off a great win against the Ducks to begin Pac-12 play. They are on the road for the first time in Pac-12 play as they take on the Stanford Cardinal (2-2, 1-1). A team that, while coming off a big win over UCLA, hasn’t looked like the same team of the past.

A big reason for that change is instability at the quarterback position and a running back who isn’t named Christian McCaffrey.

While Keller Chryst played in 12 games last season for the Cardinal, and has played in all four so far this season, he won’t be in-action against ASU as he has been ruled out with concussion-like symptoms. In his place, K.J. Costello will get the start.

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In his two games he has made an appearance in so far this season, he is 18-28 with 203 yards and two touchdowns. He is still learning on the job and look for the Arizona State defense to get to him early.

Another player that Arizona State will need to get to early is Bryce Love. The Stanford running back has done his best to replicate the effect McCaffrey had on the team last season, but doesn’t have quite the same effect. Don’t get confused though, Love is great in his own respects.

What he lacks in pass-catching ability he makes up for in his great ability to exploit gaps in a defense.

Through the first four games of the season Love has 787 yards on the ground with an average of 10.8 yards-per-carry. Tack on his five touchdowns and he makes for a game-changing player that Arizona State will need to keep their eyes on.

For Arizona State, the team looks to be improving at the right time. The offense has begun to fire on all cylinders and the defense is starting to show signs of improvement under Phil Bennett.

A big reason for their improvement has been Bennett’s emphasis on tackling in the open field, the Achilles heel of the unit for the past two seasons. With the defense able to keep their assignments in front of them, it makes for an intriguing situation to watch as the season progresses.

Manny Wilkins has been stellar for the Sun Devils so far this season. In their four games, ASU is averaging 431.8 yards of offense with 323 of those yards coming thanks to Wilkins’ arm.

He has 1,271 passing yards, eight touchdowns, and zero interceptions so far this season. Another exciting facet to his game, his legs, have started to become more of a factor. Against Oregon, Wilkins picked up 35 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. This extra part of his game has the ability to carve up an opposing defense when given the chance.

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Overall, this should be looked at as a winnable game for Arizona State. Outside of Love, nothing about Stanford has looked impressive this season. Look for the Cardinal to establish the run game early and pound Love against the defensive front of the Sun Devils. In the end, Manny Wilkins will have another stellar game and will lead Arizona State to a 2-0 Pac-12 record entering their bye week.

Prediction: Arizona State 35, Stanford 31