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"A lot of people say they're an attacking defense because it sounds good"

In their first season at Arizona State (5-1, 3-0), Todd Graham and his staff have stuck with the plan of playing an aggressive, attacking style of defense.

The Sun Devils are clearly getting after it each week, ranking second in both tackles for loss (nearly 10 per game) and sacks (just over 4 per game). Tomorrow's game against Oregon (6-0, 3-0) will be a huge test for them, on both sides of the ball.

Graham noted that he took a look at Oregon's film during their off week before the Colorado game, saying that while the coordinators focused on the Buffaloes, he's still a fan of the game, and that it's in his nature to be looking forward to a big game like this.

After practice yesterday, Graham explained that when they first got together as a staff, they asked themselves "who do we need to be to beat the best in the Pac 12?" and then designed their systems accordingly.

"So we designed our systems around how we think the best way to do that is. There is no doubt in my mind that there is no way that your going to beat a team as good as they are by sitting there. No doubt in my mind, they're too hard to defend."

Graham says that their defense will still be aggressive tomorrow night, but naturally won't be able to do as much because of Oregon's tempo and making sure that they can get everything communicated properly.

"I told you from the beginning that we're going to be an attacking defense. A lot of people say that just because it sounds good, but that is actually who we are."

 

 

How Andy Reid told Todd Bowles he'd be taking over as defensive coordinator

Yesterday morning, Eagles defensive backs coach Todd Bowles got the news that he'd be named defensive coordinator after Andy Reid decided to let go Juan Castillo in Philadelphia.

Bowles went through his usual morning routine, working out with a few other assistants before getting to the office at 5:30am and grabbing some breakfast.

It was then that Reid called Bowles into his office to tell him of the new direction that he wanted to take the franchise, with him running the defense for the rest of the season.

“He said he’s going to go with his gut and he felt it was the right thing to do.” Bowles said.

After serving as the interim head coach for Dolphins for the last three games of the season last year, Bowles said that he developed an understanding of the tough decisions that a head coach has to make.

“I sat in his seat for three games last year and being a head coach is not easy. You’ve got to make unpopular decisions at the time and hope they become popular. It’s no different than everybody else that has to make decisions when you’re in that seat. You’ve got to make that call. That was a call he made, and I don’t think he had any help from anybody. It’s just something that he told me.”

Wednesday TV - Games resume tomorrow night

No games on tonight, but we'll have five college games (including two D-II games) and an NFL game tomorrow night.

Eastern time listed.

NFL:

No games

College:

No games

High School:

No games

FootballScoop staff is headed west

A few months back we embarked on a Pac-12 Tour (sponsored by our good friends at Overtime Software). Off-season tour was excellent; but the coaches told us we needed to come back for a few games. Thus, this weekend we're hitting 4 Pac-12 teams...Thursday night we'll be field-level for Oregon at Arizona State and then Saturday night we'll join the fine folks at Arizona as they host Washington. No confirmed appearances scheduled yet on the worldwide leader but you never know what might happen...stay tuned. 

To get you mind right for Thursday night's matchup, take a look at a couple of stats that we found interesting...

-Strength vs. Strength: Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelley and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota currently rank 1-2 in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. Each will face his stiffest test yet as Arizona State (89.4) and Oregon (107.3) also lead the conference in pass efficiency defense.

-Strength vs. Strength, Part deux: Oregon is second in the Pac-12 with 541.7 yards of total offense per game. ASU leads the league in total defense, surrendering just 272.7 yards per game.

-An area where Arizona State will try to take advantage: If Arizona State is able to pull the upset it will be because the Sun Devils consistently put Oregon in bad down-and-distance situations. Arizona State ranks No. 2 nationally by forcing 9.83 TFL per game, while Oregon is No. 102 in the country with 6.83 TFL allowed per game. Of course, when you're as explosive on offense as the Ducks are 2nd and 12 can just mean De'Anthony Thomas' latest touchdown run goes 62 yards instead of just 60.

-Score First, Score Last: Todd Graham's team is 5-0 when scoring first this season, and carries a 62-10 first quarter advantage into Thursday night. Arizona State also enjoys a 64-7 scoring margin in the fourth quarter in 2012. Meanwhile, Chip Kelly's squad has outscored the opposition 112-19 in its six games and holds a 109-28 advantage in the second half over their last four games.

-26-0: Under Chip Kelly, Oregon has never lost in 26 games played between Week 2 and Week 8 in his four seasons as head coach.

- Streaking Ducks: Oregon has the longest road winning streak in FBS (11), and has scored 30 or more points in 19 straight games - also the longest streak in FBS. Oregon is 38-2 when scoring 30 or more under Kelly.

- Stingy in the Red Zone: Oregon has allowed Pac-12 opponents only four touchdowns in 16 trips inside the red zone in 2012.

Suggestions for post-game wind-down in Tempe and Tucson are welcomed below, or on Twitter

Proof that defense wins games

St. Stanislaus HS (MS) and Poplarville HS (MS) staged a shootout for the ages on Friday night in Bay St. Louis, Miss.  Poplarville rallied from a 60-49 halftime deficit to win 82-80 in regulation. The 162 points eclipsed the previous of 145 points set in 2000. 

"It was pretty wild," former Itawamba Community College (MS) offensive cooradinator and current St. Stanislaus coach Gabe Fertitta told the Biloxi (Miss) Sun-Herald. "I've never seen anything like it. It was the perfect storm. The flow of the game is hard to describe."

St. Stanislaus opened the game with a touchdown and, playing without its top two kickers, attempted a squib kick that Poplarville fumbled and the Rockachaws recovered. St. Stanislaus scored on the ensuing possession, attempted another squib kick and again recovered after a Poplarville fumble. Another touchdown put the score at 18-0 before Poplarville's offense took the field for the first time. 

Plenty of players submitted a half-season's worth of offensive statistics in the game. Poplarville running back Jiquan James rushed 37 times for 401 yards and five touchdowns. As a team, the Hornets totaled 639 rushing yards and 846 yards of total offense.

In a losing effort, St. Stanislaus quarterback Tyler Allen connected on 25-of-37 attempts for 443 yards and seven touchdowns. The Rockachaws also had two running backs combine for 393 yards.

On a night when the final score resembled an NBA game, Poplarville head coach Chris Teal cited his defense's three forced turnovers in the third quarter that were pivotal to his team's comeback.

In holding the Rockachawks to just 20 points in the second half, Poplarville built a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter but didn't secure the win until recovering an onside kick with 54 seconds to play. 

St. Stanislaus, who is still searching for its first win in 2012, hopes that 80 points will be enough next week.

"We needed to score 83,'' Fertitta said. "We just didn't get the job done.''

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