- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here are three keys for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Play smart: Navy won't be able to just line up and beat Arizona State. It's going to need to outsmart, outflank and flat trick the Sun Devils. And it's going to need the Sun Devils to get flustered and make mistakes. That's the sort of thing the old Sun Devils did, but not this year. At least, not as often. Navy likely will make a few plays with its triple option, and its solid defense likely will take some chances that lead to big plays. Arizona State just needs to keep its composure and keep pounding. Its speed and size should eventually take over.
QBs out front: Both offenses are quarterback-centric. The Navy triple option runs through freshman Keenan Reynolds, and the Sun Devils' spread runs through sophomore Taylor Kelly. Both defenses will try to turn up the pressure and force miscues. Whichever quarterback makes the fewest likely will play for the winning team.
Run defense? Arizona State didn't play great run defense over the final stretch of the season, with four of its past six foes eclipsing 200 yards on the ground. The Sun Devils finished ranked 10th in the Pac-12 in run defense. That bodes well for Navy. It certainly will boost the Midshipmen's pregame confidence watching those game films. But the Sun Devils run the ball well, too, ranking fourth in the conference with 190.8 yards per game. If Arizona State can lean heavily on its ground game, its chances will be pretty darn good.