ASU notes: Some familiarity with Texas Tech offense
Arizona State learned its bowl fate Sunday, accepting an invitation to the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30 in San Diego, where it will play Texas Tech.
The 14th-ranked Sun Devils, who lost to Stanford in the Pac-12 title game Saturday, enter the game as nearly a two-touchdown favorite over the Red Raiders, who started the season 7-0 and climbed to No. 10 in the BCS standings but have since lost five straight games. Texas Tech does not have a victory over a team with a winning record this season.
The game at Qualcomm Stadium is three weeks away, and ASU does not begin bowl practice until Friday in Tempe, but here are a few notes to get started, as well as a statistical comparison between the Sun Devils and Red Raiders:
— ASU should be a little extra informed of Texas Tech’s personnel, as current offensive line coach Chris Thomsen served in the same role under Tommy Tuberville at Texas Tech last season. After Tuberville left to coach Cincinnati, Thomsen served as interim coach for the Red Raiders’ win over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
— The Sun Devils should also be plenty familiar with the Red Raiders’ offense. First-year coach Kliff Kingsbury installed the “Air Raid” offense he ran for two seasons as Texas Tech’s quarterback under current Washington State coach Mike Leach. While Kingsbury has added some run-game tweaks of his own at Texas Tech, ASU faced Leach’s offense this season and last, winning both games.
— With 6.15 defensive three-and-outs forced per game, ASU ranks third in the nation, behind only Baylor (6.50) and Clemson (6.17).
— Texas Tech quarterbacks have combined for 18 interceptions this season, more than all but five of the 123 FBS teams. ASU’s defense, meanwhile, has collected 21 interceptions, more than all but two FBS teams.
— The next three weeks should give ASU a chance to get healthy. Running back Marion Grice missed the past two games with a leg injury but is expected to be ready for the bowl. Fellow running back D.J. Foster’s status is unknown after the sophomore was injured in ASU’s loss to Stanford.
— Grice has also accepted an invitation to play in the Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 25. Other notable players expected to play in the game include Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis and Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland.
— ASU coach Todd Graham already led all Division I coaches in bonus money earned entering Saturday’s game, having made an extra $771,667 for various achievements. A win Saturday would have earned Graham another $805,000 ($460,00 for winning the Pac-12 title game and $345,000 for a Rose Bowl berth). He could earn $275,000 in bonus money if the Sun Devils win the Holiday Bowl and $23,000 if they finish the season in the top 25. Graham has a base salary of $2.3 million this season.
— The Sports Business Journal detailed Monday the gifts players will receive from each bowl this year. Among the items ASU and Texas Tech players will receive are a $305 Best Buy gift card, a Reactor Meltdown watch and Maui Jim sunglasses.
— According to multiple reports, former ASU coach Dirk Koetter interviewed for the Boise State coaching vacancy Monday. Koetter was head coach at Boise State previously, from 1998-2000, before spending six seasons at ASU from 2001-06.