Stopping rushing attacks key for ASU, Navy Saturday

Sometimes what you see is what you get.

There is no clearer illustration of this for head coach Todd Graham and the Arizona State football team as they prepare for Saturday’s Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl matchup in San Francisco against Navy.

The run-oriented Midshipmen don’t try to fool teams offensively and that alone speaks volumes to the success of their triple option attack. They rank sixth nationally in rushing yards at just over 275 per game.

“Let me tell ya,” Graham said. “There’s a reason why it’s worked for a long, long time. I love it. I love the system. I think it’s a great equalizer of athletic ability and discipline. High character guys that are tough really excel in that system. It’s a handful [to prepare for]. It’s tough.”

Graham said having a month to prepare for the scheme is helpful to his defense, but the Sun Devils won’t get a true look at the attack until they take take the field at AT&T Park this weekend as it’s nearly impossible to simulate in practice.

The Sun Devils offensively feature their own “triple option” in the backfield with senior Cameron Marshall, junior Marion Grice, and change of pace freshman D.J. Foster. All three offer unique skill sets for Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and unique problems for Navy’s defense which has been exposed in lopsided losses to Notre Dame, Penn State, San Jose State, and Troy this season.

“On offense they’re a very aggressive, up-tempo running team that’s hard to stop,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo told Brad Cesmat on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “We have to find a way to slow down their run game because they get that going and they get play-action stuff off of it. It’s tough.”

The ASU offense has, for the most part, been balanced this year averaging just under 260 yards through the air and 190 on the ground.

Kickoff is set for 2:00P Arizona time Saturday with television coverage provided by ESPN.

Pros2Preps will be with the Sun Devils in the Bay Area providing coverage starting Wednesday. Brad Cesmat will host ‘Big Guy on Sports’ Friday afternoon in San Francisco from 12:00-2:00 p.m. on XTRA Sports 910. You can also watch the show streaming live at Pros2Preps.com.