Third down wasn’t a problem down a year ago for Arizona State. The Sun Devils had a 45% conversion rate on third-down plays, a top-25 mark nationally. That was with a different offensive coaching staff, a different quarterback, and a host of different skill talent.

Third down has been a problem through the first two weeks of the new season. After converting just four of 13 third downs in the opener, ASU was 2-for-13 this past Saturday against Oklahoma State.

Asked how they can get better there, offensive lineman LaDarius Henderson told reporters on Wednesday they need to put themselves in better situations.

The average third down against Oklahoma State began 9 yards from the sticks. It was 6 yards against Northern Arizona in Week 1. But even on the short stuff, Arizona State wasn’t effective. It was 0-for-5 on third downs that needed 4 yards or less to convert.

“When we were running the ball, staying in front of the chains, you have to convert on those, right?” offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas said on Tuesday, per Sun Devil Source. “That’s the other end of the spectrum. Stay in front of the chains, but OK, you’re getting a third-and-manageable. We have to convert it. That was one that was probably most disappointing. When you get into a third-and-12, third-and-14, the percentages of converting those are minimal, so you have to take those with a grain of salt. But the ones that were really manageable and we didn’t take advantage of, those are the ones that we need to address and improve.”

It’s possible the Cowboy defense is one of the best ASU faces all season. The front of that defense is particularly strong. That could be at play here. So far this season, ASU is 2-for-9 on rushing plays that needed 2 yards or less to convert a first down or a touchdown.

We’ll see if that starts to improve against Eastern Washington on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. PT on the Pac-12 Network.