Arizona State Head Coach Gary Lane pulled his team into a meeting room recently and asked them a simple question: Do you think you are an 80-0 team?
That score was the result when ASU took on BYU last season. The Sun Devils don’t want a repeat.
“This team has been working exceptionally hard,” enthused Lane. “They are the hardest-working team I’ve ever had. I am very proud of the work they’ve put in.”
The work has been in training and on the field, where Arizona State has lost to Arizona, Cal, Penn State, and Army.
“We’ve had some tough results but I am proud of how the players have responded,” said Lane. “We addressed some of the things we needed to work on after the Cal game against Army. We were unlucky to lose to Army – we crossed their line twice but couldn’t get the ball down. It’s essential that we play tough teams to prepare ourselves for this league.”
BYU may well be the best collegiate team in the country right now.
“Arizona State is a bit of a wild card – you can’t look past them,” said BYU Head Coach David Smyth. “We’ve benefited from some tough competition with the Super League teams we’ve played. I am pleased with how the players have prepared themselves. We know they will be physical and we needed to paly as many games as possible to be ready.”
BYU is led by an imposing forward pack that includes Mikey Su’a, Ray Forrester, TJ Allred, Ryan Roundy, and Vili Vimahi. Out wide, their midfield of Dylan Lubbe, Seki Kofe and Paul Lasike is the best in the business.
For the Sun Devils, there’s plenty of experience and leadership, Zack Utley and captain Adam Sandstrom lead a hard-nosed group. Lane, however, is especially pleased with a relatively inexperienced back row combination that is coming along.
“A number of players have stepped, up,” said Lane. “Key for us is we’ve been able to garner some depth, which you need in this competition. Now we just want to show our fans how we can compete with the likes of BYU. We are very excited for this challenge.”