ASU's Graham optimistic about team going into second half of season
Arizona State football has reached the halfway point of its season, winning four out of six games -- with the only two losses coming away from Sun Devil Stadium.
"I think we're exactly where I thought we would be, and that's in a good position," head coach Todd Graham said Monday.
ASU is positioned behind UCLA (5-0) in the Pac-12 South, but the Sun Devils' 2-1 conference mark puts them ahead of two teams -- Utah and USC -- that boast the same overall record.
Speaking at his weekly press conference, Graham, as he has in previous weeks, talked of the opportunity before his club: Controlling its own destiny.
"At this point in the year, we ought to be extremely motivated. We have a shot (to win the division and play in the Pac-12 Championship Game)," he said. "It's the team that plays with that kind of spirit and that kind of enthusiasm that is the key."
The Sun Devils are coming off a 54-13 win over Colorado in which they scored more first quarter points (25) than they had scored in the first quarter of the past five games combined (24).
ASU put up points on its first five drives and eight of its nine first-half possessions for a 47-6 lead at the break, allowing Graham to rest his starters in the second half.
"There's been a consistency on that side of the ball (the offense) that I think is something that is reassuring," he said. "I don't go down this stretch. Right now, I'm not worrying one bit about our ability to score points."
Graham's concerns, which he lists each week, are turnovers, penalties and negative plays. His team did not turn the ball over, committed only three penalties and had only a handful of plays stopped behind the line of scrimmage against Colorado.
"Even though I was very proud of our win last week, and that's how you play against a team like that, we did answer the call, but we have to be better this week," he said. "This is the time that we have to get better fundamentally and continue to do that; and we've done that. I don't think there's a week that we have not gotten better."
This week the Sun Devils host 20th-ranked Washington, a team whose two defeats have come against then-No. 5 Stanford and No. 2 Oregon in back-to-back weeks.
"This is a huge game for us, in that we're playing one of the top three teams from the (Pac-12) North and I think one of the top teams in our conference," Graham said. "I would consider Washington, from what I've looked at them on film, offensively and defensively, they're definitely one of the top 25 teams in the country.
"We've got to win this game. We want to be conference champions; we've got to be undefeated at home."
Craig Grialou, Reporter
- ASU's Todd Graham a finalist for Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award
- Doug Franz College Football Playoff - Final
- Bowls feature impressive gift packages for participating teams
- Arizona State accepts invitation to play in 2013 Holiday Bowl against Texas Tech
- Some things are more disappointing than Arizona State's loss to Stanford
- Glenn Parker, Pac-12 Network football analyst - Friday December 6Glenn Parker previews the Pac-12 Championship game.
- Joe Schad, ESPN college football reporter - Friday December 6A national perspective on the ASU-Stanford Pac 12 Championship Game
- J.R. Redmond, former ASU running back - Friday December 6Redmond discussed the similarities between the 96 ASU team and this year's edition.
- Bickley Blast - Friday December 6Setting the stage for the ASU-Stanford Pac 12 Championship Game.
- Jean Boyd, ASU Associate AD - Friday December 6Boyd explains the importance of ASU football's "Rock Walk" tradition