The annual Territorial Cup battle between the Arizona Wildcats and Arizona St. Sun Devils is just a few short days away. Both schools are currently in the midst of a culture change with new head coaches, and this first season has been better than expected for both teams.
SB Nation Arizona will be previewing all aspects of the 2012 Territorial Cup. In Tuesday's subject, we will be analyzing the exact recipe for how each team has found in-game success this season. ASU contributor Cody Ulm and UA contributor Scott Coleman weighed in on the subject.
Cody Ulm: Although it probably sounds like the generic answer for most teams, the Sun Devils excel when they move the ball on the ground while clogging the opposing team's run game.
On offense, their receivers have struggled getting consistent separation all season long but when the rushing attack is working, the unit still tends to be quite explosive. If DJ Foster, Cameron Marshall and Marion Grice bring their A-game, defenses usual have no option but to stack the box. In those instances, things open up on the outside and those are the times that Taylor Kelly has a tendency to look like one of the finest quarterbacks in the Pac-12. But when the rushing lanes are getting clogged, Kelly has a bad habit of forcing things. And as you might expect, things get pretty ugly at a rapid pace.
On the other end of the ball, the Devils' pass rush is downright dominate. They lead in the nation with 48 sacks on the year and have the ability to attack the pocket from basically every angle on the field. But when opponents get their ground game rolling, their front seven can look a little hesitant at times. Headhunters like Carl Bradford and Chris Young are forced to stay back and Will Sutton's sack master status takes on more of a space-eater role. That leads to their secondary be exposed for what it really is. And let's just say it certainly isn't the eighth best in the country like the statistics suggest.
Scott Coleman: Arizona's offense has ranked among the best in the country this season. Other than the UCLA game, where quarterback Matt Scott clearly wasn't healthy, UA has had no problems moving the football.
It really comes down to the defense each weekend. In the seven games the 'Cats have won, they've given up an average of 23 points. In their four losses, they've given up an unfathomable 52 points a game. Granted, that number is inflated a bit by UCLA and Oregon running up the score, but points are points.
UA struggles to get a consistent pass rush, which means their secondary has to do a great job of sticking on receivers and not allowing them to get vertical down the field.
One of the reasons UA has been able to win seven games this year is because of the turnovers they've forced, including five against USC and four against Oklahoma State. If the 'Cats hope to beat the Sun Devils on Friday, they'll need to take the ball away early and often from Taylor Kelly and the potent ASU attack.