After dropping their eighth straight game, the Arizona Wildcats return home for Senior Day and the Duel in the Desert on Friday. The Arizona State Sun Devils have lost five straight and six of their last seven contests. They only need one more win to secure bowl eligibility.
ASU’s 2016 Record – 5-6 (2-6 Pac-12)
Key Games – Week two win vs. Texas Tech (68-55), Week four win vs. Cal (51-41), Week six win vs. UCLA (23-20), Week eight loss vs. Washington State (37-32), Week nine loss at Oregon (54-35)
Key Offensive Players – Manny Wilkins (QB), Demario Richard (RB), Kalen Ballage (RB), Tim White (WR), N’Keal Harry (WR),
Key Defensive Players – JoJo Wicker (DE), DJ Calhoun (LB), Tashon Smallwood (DT), Viliami Moeakiola (LB), Salamo Fiso (LB)
Todd Graham and the Sparky Boys have had an awfully strange year. They started the season 5-1, which had many pundits across the country confused as ASU was picked to finish 5th in the Pac-12 South. I was one that was concerned that perhaps everyone had overlooked them and Graham was potentially on his way to another double-digit win season. As it turns out, their non-conference schedule was an absolute joke and their conference schedule was extremely back-loaded.
ASU’s defense is mainly to blame for the woeful season. They currently rank 119th in points allowed with 38.4 per game, and their pass defense ranks dead last in the country by giving up 382.9 yards per game. Luckily for them, Anu Solomon left the OSU game early with an apparent foot injury and his status for Friday is currently unknown.
It’s safe to assume that Graham will play tons of his infamous cover zero and make the Arizona quarterbacks beat him in the air. It may be a long night if the Wildcats are unable to get the passing game going. However, if the passing game does come to life, it may force Graham to ease off his cover zero which should open up the ground game.
The Sun Devil offense is far more respectable as they average about 33 points per contest. They have to be feeling pretty good about this matchup after watching the Oregon State Beavers put up 42 points against UA’s defense.
It will be interesting to see if Marcel Yates decides to play seniors Tellas Jones and DaVonte’ Neal, as it will be their final game at Arizona. Another interesting name to watch will be Paul Magloire. He missed the OSU game due to a groin injury. It would sure be nice to have him back for this matchup.
Regardless of what happens, it is important to remember that this is supposed to be a celebration for the Seniors. I want to thank them all for their dedication to the University of Arizona and wish them luck with their future endeavors, rather it be in the NFL or another professional career.
Kickoff is scheduled for Friday at 7:30 PM Arizona time and will be televised on ESPN.