Last Saturday night Arizona State was picking up the pieces after being stomped by USC 42-14, head coach Todd Graham leaned into the post game microphone and said “This is the best team we’ve had overall, we’ve just not been playing that way”. Sunday morning my in-box was filled with Sun Devil fans who didn’t want to hear that coming out of their head coach, especially when the team is 2-2 and staring down the barrel of UCLA this Saturday. Todd Graham has never had a rockier time as head coach of the Sun Devils than right now. While everything looked 75 degrees and sunny back in late August, the day that running backs coach Bo Graham resigned from the program and moving forward, it’s been a long, hot, dry spell. There hasn’t been one game in the first month of the season where Arizona State has looked good. Not one game where they have played like a top 25 team. If you were to rank the programs in the Pac-12 after four weeks, it’s safe to say that Arizona State would be closer to the bottom than the top, they aren’t even average right now. Coach Graham uses the word “character” often when talking about his players. We will see if that attribute exists in this years team on Saturday afternoon. A loss to the Bruins and it’s time to start making plans for the Vegas or San Francisco Bowl.
The Arizona Wildcats are now finding out just how unfair the schedule maker was to them. With no bye week this season, the Wildcats just have to suck it up and try to find ways to win games while two of their leaders are out with injuries. It’s not clear if quarterback Anu Solomon will play Saturday at Stanford. Solomon is in the concussion protocol program after getting knocked out against UCLA. All-American linebacker Scooby Wright won’t play for at least a few weeks after suffering a sprained foot in the loss to the Bruins.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez is going to have to rely on the ground game to beat a good Stanford team. Against UCLA the Wildcats run for over 300 yards and were still blown out. Not a good situation for Arizona.
What was supposed to be a special season for the two college football programs in our state, is shaping up to be a lead balloon. Both teams aren’t expected to win their games this Saturday. Both would have two losses in conference play with almost two months to go. It’s nervous time in Tempe and Tucson.