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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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View from the other sideline: Arizona State

The Battalion sports editor Carter Karels spoke with Arizona State’s State Press sports editor Stefan Modrich about the upcoming matchup between Texas A&M and ASU.
THE BATTALION: What are your gameday predictions?
MODRICH: I’ll say that ASU wins 42-40. I think Mike Bercovici is going to have a big day, but the possibility is very real that he could be rattled. He’ll either have a phenomenal offensive game or he’ll throw three or four picks. Although the offense is very balanced, if he tries to do too much, he could be ASU’s undoing.
THE BATTALION: What would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of Arizona State’s team?
MODRICH: This season especially, their main strength is at running back depth. Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage are going to be critical pieces for this team. They are going to be guys that you are going to game plan for and know about. They’ve got some depth behind them in Jason Lewis and Jacom Brimhall. Additionally, there’s a lot of speed. A transfer from UCLA, Devin Lucien, is going to be a guy that will be an ‘x-factor.’ There’s a lot of depth and the defense is also an underrated strength of this team. Weaknesses are definitely still there on special teams. They’re unproven in the kicking game and coverage in punts and kickoffs have been shaky.
THE BATTALION: What’s the feeling like on the Arizona State campus? How confident are the students?
MODRICH: The vibe on campus is definitely one of genuine excitement. The quarterback, Mike Bercovici, was a huge celebrity last year after the hail mary to beat USC. It really raised him. This is a guy who at one point people thought he would transfer…They still have tempered expectations because ASU has fallen short from where they want to be. I would definitely say that the expectations are to win a national championship here.

What can you tell me about D.J. Foster? They had him at running back and now they’ve switched him to wide receiver.

MODRICH: The position change is still in effect. They are going to use him in a very similar way as they did last year. They’ll put him at slot or on the edge and they’ll line him up in a lot of different places. They are showing to use him in the backfield, Todd Graham said that much. He probably won’t be getting the same amount of carries. He’s going to be a versatile part of their offense, but he won’t have to bear being burden.

What should be A&M’s biggest worry? What should be ASU’s biggest worry?

MODRICH: I would think that A&M’s biggest worry is contending with the spread offense and how they will fluctuate between Ballage and Richard as power backs. Also there’s the opportunity to keep them honest with short passes and screens. They’ve got De’Chavon Hayes, who is a running back that is a hybrid wide receiver also. They’ve got Gary Chambers. I think just trying to match up with all the offensive weapons and then I think that’s the continuing worry that ASU has. Can they contend Kyle Allen? And then also the defense under John Chavis, I would think that would be their biggest worry is how athletic A&M is up front.

Would you make the argument that the Pac 12 South is better than the SEC West?

MODRICH: I would say that if Colorado was out of the division, then yes. The difference is just so insignificant, but I’ll give the edge to the SEC West just because of the overall pedigree. The Pac 12 South is not far behind at all. I would say that the top half of the Pac 12 South is much deeper, but overall I think the SEC West.

What will ASU’s final record be, and what bowl will they make?

MODRICH: I picked ASU to go 11-1 and I think that this year is honestly their ceiling for the College Football Playoff. So I think for them it should be College Football Playoff or bust. I think they’ll end up going in as the four seed.

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