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ASU Football: Sun Devils try to stay focused even with a .500 record

(Photo: Scotty Bara/WCSN)

With national, conference and divisional championship hopes all but lost, Arizona State was left to reflect on its triple-overtime loss that saw Oregon drop 61 points on its vaunted defense.

While collegiate overtime procedure produces skewed offensive numbers, that doesn’t take away the fact that Oregon was able to march its way 60 yards down the field on 13 plays to tie the game on a last-second heave from Vernon Adams to Dwayne Stanford.

Adams finished the game with four touchdown passes, and now the Sun Devils are tasked on defending the third-ranked air raid from Washington State this weekend.

“We consider ourselves to be a great secondary,” redshirt senior bandit safety Jordan Simone said. “We’re looking forward to going up there and playing those guys.”

The Cougars average 407.4 yards per game through the air, and sophomore quarterback Luke Falk attempts 56 passes per game. However, the Sun Devil secondary views the frequency of pass attempts as an abundance of opportunities.

“We’re excited,” redshirt senior boundary cornerback Lloyd Carrington said. “Playing (defensive back), you always want to have opportunities to go up and get the ball, so we know we’ll definitely have those, plenty of those during the game.”

Leading the Sun Devils in interceptions this season is freshman field safety Kareem Orr with three picks on the season. Although Orr missed some assignments that nearly directly lead to open touchdowns for the Ducks, he also made a diving, one-handed interception off a tipped ball.

“It was floating for a while,” Orr said of the interception. “So I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and get that real quick.’”

As the weeks have gone on, Orr’s comfort in putting himself in position to make big plays has been evident, and his goal in Pullman is simple.

“Get more picks,” Orr said. “That’s all I want.”

Falk is a distinctly different quarterback than Adams, who was more of a threat to scramble and extend plays, which is something Orr took note of on tape as well.

“You see him (Adams) scrambling around making plays,” he said. “This week we’re just going to stay on our guy because we know he can’t run that well.”

Staying focused at .500

The Sun Devils are all but eliminated from the Pac-12 race, and their focus now turns to bowl eligibility. At 4-4, ASU must win two of its next four games to qualify, and the reality of the situation is a difficult one to accept for the team.

“It’s tough because I see how hard we’re playing out there,” senior D.J. Foster said. “Sometimes, it just doesn’t go the way you want it to go.”

The Cougars are also coming off a close 30-28 loss at the hands of Stanford, so the matchup in Pullman is likely to be an intense contest between two teams trying to prevent losing skids.

“Each team comes out with a chip on their shoulder wanting to prove something,” Carrington said. “it’s going to be very exciting and a very fun game for us.”

For as much as ASU head coach Todd Graham publicly endorsed the team as a championship-caliber side, the Sun Devils are now in a position that will not satisfy those self-imposed expectations. With that in mind, Foster and his teammates continue to get after it on the practice field with a bowl bid still up for grabs.

“We understand how tough it is, and we understand it sucks,” Foster said. “We got to keep playing. We got four games, and we can’t look back.”

Practice notes

– Redshirt junior linebacker Salamo Fiso was in green but participated in tempo.

– Redshirt junior De’Chavon Hayes lined up at second-team boundary cornerback against redshirt senior wide receiver Devin Lucien. He wrapped Lucien on a bubble route but was beat on a deep streak that led to a touchdown in tempo.

– Sophomore safety Armand Perry was in green and did not participate in tempo.

– Freshman fullback Nick Ralston was in green.

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

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