Stanford-ASU: the expert’s takes on Saturday’s Pac-12 Championship

Arizona Sports News online

This past week and “The Brad Cesmat Show” has provided local and national insiders and analysts to share their thoughts on Saturday night’s showdown at Sun Devil Stadium.

Below are some comments on the game and how the Pac-12 is perceived nationally from those particulars.

Chris Young (ASU senior linebacker): “We wanted Stanford. It was a bitter first half and they kind of embarrassed us [a 42-28 Cardinal win on September 21]. We look at ourselves way better than that and this game will be a game that we prove to the Pac-12 that we belong here and we’re a great team, as well.”

Paola Boivin (AZ Central Sports columnist): “This looks like such a different [ASU] team. One, I think the defense has found their identity and they are a big play defense that…when it matters most someone can step up and get a sack, an interception. ASU’s biggest strength is that tempo offense when it gets on a roll it can do so many things but they all keep the ball. They keep the ball away from the opponent as much as possible…I think there’s that comfort level now with Kelly…the reality is they can win this game and I would not be surprised if they win this game.”

Chris Karpman ( Publisher): “I think ASU’s trojectory has been higher than Stanford’s throughout the season. I think Stanford’s not really a better team now than when ASU played them the first time. They already had all their strengths pretty much established. At that point of the season we pretty much knew who they were. ASU’s continued to get better. ASU is right on par with Stanford, especially with the game being played at Sun Devil Stadium.”

Todd Husak (Stanford radio analyst): “Taylor Kelly. I think you look at what Taylor Kelly has done…over the last six or seven weeks has been awesome. He has been really the playmaker, with his legs, with his arm…Jaelen Strong has been an outstanding player. They did a really good job of getting to Kelly early in that week three game…I think putting some pressure on him, disrupting him. It’s not so much hitting him but I think disrupting the timing. If he’s able to get off to a good start, Arizona State’s going to be tough…it’s Stanford’s defense against Arizona State’s quarterback. That’s the matchup to watch.”

Jake Plummer (ASU legend, Pac-12 Network analyst): “The front seven for ASU having to go against those big boys from Stanford. That’s what they do. The new age is zone reads but Stanford’s just sticking to their guns and running two tight ends, two backs. If you can stop us, good luck. If you do we’re going to go play-action and go over the top so it’s going to be a big challenge for ASU’s d-line. I think that Will Sutton is going to get double-teamed and the d-linemen are going to have to get a body on a body…it’s going to be a fun, physical game to watch.”

Brock Huard (ESPN analyst): “It’s all about volume of snaps. I think that’s what it completely comes down to. I think if ASU can get the numbers in the volume they need. They could not get there in the Bay Area…I think you got Stanford at their very, very peak of health and their very, very peak of their personnel. Obviously, [defensive lineman] Ben Gardner is gone. That diminishes a little bit of their depth…if they get to 80 plays, I think ASU wins…to me that’s the critical number. Can Taylor and crew get that [number] of snaps offensively.”

Brad Edwards (ESPN BCS guru): “I do think the SEC is the best conference but I do think the gap isn’t very big…the Pac-12 is every bit as deep, if not deeper than the SEC at this point. I think the gap between the SEC and the Pac-12 for best conference is much smaller than the gap between the Pac-12 and everybody else out there who would be making the claim that they are the second-best conference.”