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ASU Football: Preparation for Cal’s Goff begins Tuesday

(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)

Following a resounding, emotional win in the Territorial Cup, Arizona State began its preparations Tuesday for the regular season finale in Berkeley against the California Golden Bears, and getting over the lingering hangover from beating Arizona was the first step for the Sun Devils.

Perhaps the most emotionally affected player was redshirt senior cornerback Lloyd Carrington, who had one of ASU’s two pick-sixes to end the game on Senior Day. On Tuesday, however, Carrington was back to his even-keel self to start the week of practice.

“We all knew what that game entailed,” Carrington said. “We knew we were going to come out playing with a lot of passion and intensity, but the main focus for this week is to go out here and get our seventh win.”

With that in mind, freshman safety Kareem Orr — who had the other pick six for ASU — acknowledged the emotional toll the win over Arizona had.

“I would say we got out here kind of sluggish today,” Orr said. “We got to pick it up a little bit.”

While Orr didn’t start the game due to what he called a hip issue, he killed any chance of a Wildcat comeback late in the fourth quarter with a 21-yard interception return. The interception was his fifth of the season, a team-high as well as an ASU freshman record.

“It (the interception) felt good,” Orr said. “I wanted to do it for the seniors. Got it done for them. It felt really good.”

Even senior D.J. Foster admitted beating ‘the team down south’ was something worth savoring, and also something the team had to store away for later reminiscing.

“It’s (ignoring the win) hard because we got another game,” Foster said.  “So we got to let it go for now, but I’ll definitely come back and revisit the memories when it’s all said and done.”

Preparing for Jared Goff

Superb against the run and mediocre against the pass this season, the Sun Devils will have their hands full, as they’ll be tasked with halting junior quarterback Jared Goff. Orchestrating the second-most prolific passing offense in the Pac-12, Goff also ranks fifth in the FBS with 3,710 yards on the season and 32 touchdowns.

“He’s (Goff) one of the best I’ve seen so far,” Carrington said. “He does a pretty good job fundamentally at quarterback. He’s an accurate guy, and it’s going to be a pretty good challenge.”

Goff has thrown at least two touchdowns in every single game this season, and is one of the highest-rated pro prospects in the country. To advance things further, he has spread the ball evenly, as the Golden Bears have six players averaging at least 35 yards per game.

“It isn’t like you can just bracket people or zero your coverages on one guy,” ASU defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. “There’s seven guys that you better know where they are, and you better be sound.”

The challenge of defending a high-quality, high-caliber field general like Goff is something that piques the interest of Carrington, who has turned in a solid season thus far with four pass breakups.

“You have to focus on more of the mental aspect of the game,” Carrington said. “You have to go out and give him different looks to confuse him and keep him from playing from his full potential. It’s like a chess match between defenders and quarterbacks.”

As good as Goff is, it’s worth noting he has thrown a conference-high 14 interceptions, which is music to Orr’s ears. Graham praised the freshman’s ball instincts, and for as much as that has resulted in a handful of missed assignments, those instincts have also made for some spectacular takeaways.

“Ain’t nothing going to be changing me,” Orr said. “He (Goff) is a good quarterback, but he’s got a lot of turnovers as well, so we’re going to get out there and get after him.”

Orr has racked up interceptions against some of the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks including USC’s Cody Kessler and Oregon’s Vernon Adams. Adding Goff to his resume of victims is something he’s looking forward to this weekend.

“If I can get one off of him, I’ll be satisfied,” Orr said.

Orr saw time at bandit safety today with redshirt senior Jordan Simone out for the remainder of the season, while redshirt senior Solomon Means was slotted at field safety after making his first career start there against Arizona.

Graham said during his Monday press conference that he wants to stick with Means at field safety, and with Orr seemingly close to full strength, he’ll occupy the bandit safety position.

Manning the second-team safety spots during tempo were redshirt sophomore James Johnson (field) and sophomore Chad Adams (bandit).

Given the lack of experience and the various shifts on the back end, Carrington noted his role in stabilizing the Sun Devil secondary.

“Just keeping them consistent with the way that they’ve practiced, communication on the practice field and of course on game day,” he said.

Goff might be one the most advanced quarterbacks in the country, but the Sun Devils have tallied five interceptions in the last two games. Despite the injuries and tinkering at the safety spots, the high-pressure scheme seems to finally be yielding the turnovers that ASU has become accustomed to seeing under head coach Todd Graham.

Practice notes

– Sophomore safety Armand Perry was in a green no-contact jersey and not in pads, while freshman fullback Nick Ralston wore pads but remained in green.

– Chandler High School head coach Shaun Aguano was at practice today.

You can reach Zac Pacleb on Twitter @ZacPacleb or via email at zacpacleb@gmail.com

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