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ASU-Cal preview

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Arizona St. travels this weekend up to Berkley to take on the California Golden Bears on Saturday afternoon. Cal is coming off a sloppy 27-9 loss against USC while ASU comes in coming off of a 37-7 romp of Utah. Cal hopes to open the Pac-12 home campaign with an upset of ASU while the Sun Devils want to keep their momentum going by going into to Berkley and securing a victory.

 

Who to Watch

Arizona State

RB Marion Grice (Jr.) – Grice has become the most efficient running back in Coach Graham’s running back committee averaging 6.1 yards per carry while also having five rushing touchdowns. He is a back with lots of speed but also has the power to gain the tough yards on the goal line. Grice also can catch the ball out of the backfield as he has a receiving touchdown this year.

QB Taylor Kelly (Soph.) – Kelly has become one of the most efficient passers in the Pac-12 with a conference leading 182.2 QB Rating. Kelly has 1,000 passing yards so far through four games and has thrown six TDs with only two Ints. The problem for Kelly is that he has been great at home but in ASU’s only away game against Missouri, he looked flat for two quarters. Kelly will need to have a good game against Cal for ASU to get a victory.

S Chris Young (Jr.)- Young came to ASU after playing two years at Arizona Western Junior College. He gained the staring safety spot during fall camp and has been dominant in four games. He is averaging eight tackles per game along with 2.5 tackles for loss. Young has been used in blitz schemes and has been effective in getting into opposing backfields.

 

Cal

RB Isi Sofele (Sr.) – Sofele is a small back that can be hard for defenses to see over opposing lines. He has the ability to rush for over a 100 yards a game if he is given the ball over 15 times. The problem for Sofele is consistency.  He has had games where he has gone for 100 yards and followed those with 25-yard games. Sofele will need to be able to run the ball with a purpose in order for the Cal offense to be balanced.

WR Keenan Allen (Jr.) – Allen is perhaps the best wide receiver in the Pac-12 in the mind of some.  He has the perfect wide receiver frame and has the speed and leaping skills to cause lots of problems for opposing defenses. He is the favorite target by far for QB Zach Maynard, his half-brother, and gets double-digit targets every day. ASU will have to keep their eyes on Allen all game and limit his big plays because he will have a couple of big plays. Allen will need a huge game against the Sun Devils in order for Cal to compete with ASU.

DB Josh Hill (Sr.) – Hill is Cal’s most experienced defensive back having been a starter for 3 years. He is their active leader in tackles, interceptions, interception return yards, and forced fumbles. He has a very strong football IQ and will be looking to cause turnovers for ASU’s offense. He is a great tackler and he also leads the team so far this year with 32 tackles.

 

Storylines

Arizona State- This is ASU’s first road Pac-12 game and they head up to the hostile Bears territory. ASU needs to come out with a vengeance and play a full tough game against an opponent they should beat on paper. If they play like they played against Missouri then they could be in for a nail-biter that could end up with Cal stealing a victory away from the Devils.

Cal- Cal needs to be able to have a balanced offense in order for them to match ASU’s high-powered offense. QB Zach Maynard will make mistakes if he is forced to throw the ball over 30 times and if he tries to make too many plays. RBs Isi Sofele and Brendan Bigelow will need to push the ball up field and break away from tacklers so that Maynard won’t have too much pressure or else ASU’s defense will be able to capitalize on his mistakes.

 

Matchup to Watch

QB Zach Maynard vs. ASU’s Pass Defense

Maynard is a turnover-prone quarterback as he has double-digit interceptions in the past two years. He has had decent games when he doesn’t have to throw a lot or can throw short passes, but if the rush game is ineffective, he will be forced to throw every down. ASU’s pass defense has eight interceptions this year, which is second in the nation. Maynard will have to make smart decisions or else ASU will take advantage of his mistakes with points and good field position.

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