- Photo courtesy of SaturdayDownSouth.com.
This summer, I wanted to review some of the top out-of-conference games in the Pac-12 and what they mean for the involved teams. I am not looking at necessarily the biggest opponent games, but more the ones that will could show what a team’s trajectory might be.
Arizona State (6-7 in 2015):
vs Texas Tech Red Raiders
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Saturday, Sep. 10
Opponent at a Glance:
Big 12 Conference
7-6 in 2015 (ADVOCARE V100 TEXAS BOWL)
When you talk Texas Tech, their strength is obvious. They are going to throw a ton and put up points. The Red Raiders posted over 50 points 6 times last year, and over 60 three times. Their lowest output was 26 points and they only scored under 35 points 4 times. Back is dynamic dual threat QB Patrick Mahomes and not much else. Texas Tech will be rebuilding at running back, offensive line and replacing their best receiver. Still, Kliff Kingsbury is the Janis from Accounting of coaches and just doesn’t give a crap. He will throw it. A lot. And they will score points. Graham is known as a defensive guru, calling the defense himself. As we have seen sometimes (maybe when he is successful at stealing signs) the Satans will befuddle and stymie offenses. Other times, they will gamble and lose, constantly. If the game they had last year against the miserable school from Eugene, is any indication, a high octane passing attack is not their forte.
Where do I start? They are rebuilding a the secondary and defensive line of a miserable defense. The Red Raiders are not going to stop anyone any time soon. Remember those 50+ point games I talked about in strengths? Two of those were losses (a 55-52 laugh fest against TCU and 70-53 apparent basketball game against Oklahoma State). Arizona State should score. A lot. In one of their games last year (a 63-35 loss against Baylor) they gave up an average of 10 yards per play. PER PLAY! Arizona State may score every single time they have the ball. But so might the Under Armor ruined Red Raiders. This game could literally be decided by the coin toss.
What this game means for the rest of the season?
ASU always gets a lot of press coming into the season. With a new QB and a new OC and a bunch of changes to their team, I am suspect that they will improve much on the previous year. I also don’t like Todd Graham and think his defense is goofy and borderline dirty. I am also always wrong about him. The thing with Graham is he is a no BS type coach, which is great when you win. His schtick will get old in losses much the way Mike Stoops did across the state at UA. If ASU beats Texas Tech, a decent, Power 5 conference team, then I think they can definitely make some waves and be a bowl team.
If they lose this game, I worry about them. When you are that reckless on defense, the league starts to get to know you and how you operate. I think a loss to Texas Tech and a reasonably tough conference schedule could keep them out of bowl contention. if that happens, they will not probably retain Graham next year either by choice or by his own decision.
The Texas Tech game won’t cost anyone their job, but it is a bad indicator as to where they will be as the season progresses I am not sure they will get better. To me, this is a rubber meets the road year for this ASU staff.