Wazzu, Arizona State try to keep focus on field

NCAA Football

Washington State and Arizona State, two Pac-12 programs rocked by off-the-field developments this season, will try to find themselves on the field at Tempe, Ariz., on Saturday.

The Cougars (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12) lost to BYU 21-19 last week at Pullman, Wash., in their first game under Jake Dickert. The former defensive coordinator was elevated to interim head coach after Nick Rolovich and four assistants were fired for not complying with the Washington mandate that all state employees be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Arizona State (5-2, 3-1) is under investigation for recruiting violations, and assistant coaches Prentice Gill, Chris Hawkins and Adam Breneman have all been placed on paid leave.

The Sun Devils’ bye last week came at an opportune time following a disappointing 35-21 loss at Utah on Oct. 16 after the Arizona State led 21-7 at halftime.

Arizona State is healthier than it was for the Utah game.

Cornerback Chase Lucas and wide receiver Johnny Wilson are expected to play against Washington State, while safety Evan Fields will be a game-time decision. All are returning from injuries.

“We got a lot of guys back,” Sun Devils coach Herm Edwards said. “We’ve lost some pretty good players, especially on the D-line that are gone. That’s just how it goes. Every team has that. That’s what you deal with.”

Lucas, a senior who has played in 46 games since 2017, missed games on Sept. 25 and Oct. 16.

Wilson, a redshirt freshman, has missed each of the past three games.

Fields, a senior, sat out two of the past three games.

Washington State and Arizona State each lost to both BYU and Utah, although the Cougars’ setbacks were by closer margins. Washington State’s 24-13 loss at Utah occurred last month.

The Cougars’ three-game winning streak was snapped in the loss to BYU despite three rushing touchdowns by Max Borghi.

Jayden de Laura, a sophomore recruited from Honolulu by Rolovich, completed 26 of 37 passes for 257 yards, but he didn’t throw a touchdown pass and had an interception.

“It’s a little bit learning on the fly,” Dickert said of his first experience as a head coach. “I felt it was really smooth. For the most part we operated as a staff.”

Dickert must now prepare for an Arizona State offense that is balanced with dual-threat quarterback Jayden Daniels and running backs Rachaad White (477 yards rushing and nine touchdowns), Daniyel Ngata (253 yards) and DeaMonte Trayanum (215 yards).

Arizona State is tied for seventh in the nation with 22 rushing touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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