The WVU football team is in for a tall task against Arizona State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.
That task begins with 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker Antonio Longino.
Longino, along with defensive back Jordan Simone, linebacker Christian Sam and linebacker Salamo Fiso are all over 6-feet tall. Collectively, they are the leaders of the Sun Devils defense.
Nov 28, 2015; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Skyler Howard (3) looks on from the sideline during the third quarter against the Iowa State Cyclones at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Longino leads the group on Arizona State’s main defensive outlook. The Sun Devils love to blitz.
Longino has 10 quarterback sacks for a total loss of 50 yards, along with 19.5 tackles for a loss for a total loss of 67 yards.
"“They put pressure on you every single time you snap the football,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. “They are as good as anyone in the country with forcing negative plays, whether its sacks or tackles for loss. They are getting you behind the chains at least nine to 10 times a game.”"
Simone and Sam lead the team in tackles with 91 each. Even as a DB, Simone has four sacks. Sam has three sacks. In all, Arizona State has 44 sacks for a total loss of 280 yards this season.
Numbers like that suggest that the Sun Devils should be better than their 6-6 record at the end of the regular season. However, it was another staggering number that was ASU’s downfall. The Sun Devils turned the ball over 19 times on offense.
Meanwhile, they created 19 turnovers on defense. It was the first time in Todd Graham’s four-year tenure where ASU did not have a positive turnover ratio.
"“We gave up too many big plays and we didn’t score enough points,” Graham said. “What causes that? Turnover ratio. That’s what we need to go work on.”"
The Sun Devils will be gunning for turnovers by attempting to rattle West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard.
In WVU’s Big 12 opener on the road against Oklahoma, Howard was responsible for all five of the Mountaineers’ turnovers. The Sooners applied constant pressure and sacked Howard seven times, while earning 12 tackles for a loss.
Oklahoma scored 17 unanswered points in the second half and wound up winning, 44-24.
It’s safe to say the Sun Devils will bring a similar game plan.
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