The Washington Huskies had been running one of the better offenses in the country this season. Coming into their game this weekend in Tempe, UW ranked No. 15 in the nation in rushing, No. 8 in total offense (526.8 yards per game) and was averaging over 35 points per game. Then they ran into the Arizona State Sun Devils who completely man-handled the Huskies and made a statement to the rest of the Pac 12: ASU is coming.
When you break down the numbers from Arizona State’s blowout over Washington, you get a feeling for just how dominant the Devils’ D was on Saturday. Washington was able to must just 212 total yards of offense (over 300 yards under their season average), including minus-5 yards of rushing. Running back Bishop Sankey entered the game as the nation’s leading rusher but left with just 22 yards on 13 carries. ASU tallied seven sacks and 12 tackles for loss on the day, completely overwhelming the UW offensive line.
And it isn’t like Washington had been putting up big numbers against soft defenses. The last two weeks, UW had moved the ball on two of the best defenses in the Pac 12 against the Stanford Cardinal and Oregon Ducks. They had gone up against solid competition and continued to move the ball effectively and efficiently, though they came up short against both Stanford and Oregon. That makes the absolute buzz-saw that was the ASU defense on Saturday all the more impressive and downright terrifying if you’ve got the Sun Devils on the schedule in the near future.
There was undoubtedly a ton of potential for a nasty defense in Tempe this season with the return of Will Sutton for his senior season to play alongside Carl Bradford, Jaxon Hood, Chris Young and a secondary that was capable of physically bullying wide receivers. Up to this point, however, the defense had been good, not great, and hadn’t really shown that nasty streak that made them a popular dark horse pick in the Pac 12 South. If this game was the sleeping giant that was this defense’s potential, then the rest of the conference has been put on notice.
To shut down an offense that was as balanced, efficient and prolific as Washington in such a complete way should give this unit all the confidence in the world that they can do it again when they play the top passing attack in the country in the Oregon State Beavers at home November 26 and again the following week they they take on the UCLA Bruins in what could be the deciding contest for the Pac 12 South division.
Can the Sun Devils keep up the defensive effort they used against Washington this weekend for the home stretch of the conference schedule? If so, don’t be surprised if Todd Graham takes his team into the Pac 12 title game with a shot at punching their ticket to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl.