Last week against California, Steven Montez showed what he can do when he has time to throw the ball.

Keeping the sophomore quarterback upright will be a focus once again this week for the Buffaloes (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) as they visit Arizona State (4-4, 3-2).

Montez went 20-for-26 for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the 44-28 win against Cal. He was sacked three times, but for the most part was able to stand in the pocket and make throws.

"It shows that we have to keep Montez from having to roll out all day," running back Phillip Lindsay said. "If we can keep him in the pocket and we can keep as much pressure off of him as we can, he's going to be OK."

That's always a challenge against Arizona State, which has been known for its aggressiveness on defense under head coach Todd Graham.

"They're very active up front," Montez said. "They'll switch it up and bring some pressure. It's pretty usual for Arizona State to bring some pressure."

ASU struggled more than usual to get pressure on the quarterback last year, but has been much better this year with first-year defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. The Sun Devils rank fourth in the Pac-12 with 3.12 sacks per game.

"(Bennett) does a really good job of adding linebackers into pressure and their secondary is talented," CU co-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini said. "It's going to be a tough matchup for us out there."


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End A.J. Latu and tackle JoJo Wicker lead the Sun Devils with 4.5 sacks each.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33