The Arizona St. Sun Devils and the Oregon Ducks have a big tilt in the desert this weekend. ASU is currently 5-1 and has won its first three matchups in Pac-12 play, beating teams like Utah, California and Colorado. With an upset of Oregon, the Devils will likely crack into the top 25. Oregon is 6-0 and is 3-0 against conference foes, having beaten Arizona, Washington State and Washington in their first three matchups.
One of the big battles in Thursday's game will be the battle of speed options at running back. Oregon features the ultimate weapon in De'Anthony Thomas, who is one of the most explosive weapons in the country. Arizona State has one of the most promising young freshman in the country in D.J. Foster.
Brad Denny of House of Sparky compares and contrasts the two. How can the ASU defense hold down Thomas?
The Sun Devils must also be extremely diligent in their assignments and not overpursue, as Thomas can cut on a dime and cutback and outrun the defense to the corner. Whether it's an inside handoff, an option pitch outside, or precise routes run from the slot, Thomas arguably represents the biggest match-up difficulty ASU will face all season.
On the other side, how can Foster attack the Oregon defense?
Both Foster and Thomas will be crucial weapons in Thursday's contest between Oregon and Arizona State.
Like Thomas, the Sun Devils use Foster in a variety of ways. He'll operate out of the backfield, running inside, taking the ball to the edge on sweep and going off-tackle. He'll also line up out wide in the slot as a receiver, or run routes out of the backfield.
At 5-foot-11 and 183 pounds, Foster is a bigger player than Thomas, and he plays like it. While Foster has great speed and rare acceleration, he also runs strong and is not afraid to lower his shoulder into a would-be tackler.