Ugh, what a disappointment. With a chance to turn the season around...wait, let me rephrase that - with a must-win game to turn this season around, ASU went into Berkeley and did not just lose - but embarassed themselves. A terrible performance with the worst part being that anyone watching the game saw tons of opportunities that the Devils just let slip away. I like the way the team was coached today, despite the loss, I really think the problem was the players and their lack of execution.
Lets start with a few positives.
- No.. that was a negative...
- ok, ok.. fine.
WR Athleticism - Since Derek Hagan left ASU, our receivers have had some solid players, but no one who really flashed elite athleticism in terms of speed, agility, or catching ability. We saw a little bit of each today from different guys. McGaha made an incredibly difficult catch and continues to be an extremely underrated receiver. If he could just generate some more separation on some of his routes he would be a top-flight WR, unfortunately as it stands, he works extremely well in the slot but tends to disappear against shut down corners. Kyle Williams slant - flashing great hands, a great route, and even greater speed, Williams' touchdown was definitely the highlight for an offense that struggled all day long with timing, protection, and a lack of ability to run the ball. Finally, it was great to see Gerrell Robinson, ASU's top 2008 recruit, see some action and make such a fantastic catch, on one of Rudy's many terrible throws. The kid is going to be a beast when he puts it all together.
Other than that, there were not many positives for the Maroon and Gold.
Some problems that need to be addressed NOW-
Rudy Carpenter - What the hell Rudy? The most senior QB in the nation, passer efficiency record holder, unquestioned team leader... simply cannot make his progressions. It was clear before the half was over that on most plays Rudy knows who he wants to go to, looks for that guy, and if he can't find him open he tries to force the ball into coverage, or holds it too long making the rest of his reads. A few exceptions occured, naturally, but on the whole Rudy held the ball WAY too long, and failed to look for his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th options. When he WOULD find a check down player, he would often make a rushed throw and completely miss his target. His accuracy was HORRIBLE. Whether it was from the bum ankle or what, Rudy needs to figure it out quick or this season is going to go from disappointment, to disaster, and it will rest solely on his shoulders. The two interceptions were simply inexcusable. Frankly, he should be apologizing to his line who did a decent job protecting him...but I guess not, since they did let Follet through to crush Rudy and put him on crutches.
The ugly stats:
4-16 on third down - Horrible. No reason for this. Some of it was Rudy. Some of it was the line. Some of it was odd play calls. Some of it was the continued inability to run (Herring 14 for 37, Nance 11 for 39). Whatever the case, it needs to change because you can not win in the Pac-10 if you are going to only covert 25% of your third downs.
7 penalties for 45 yards - the team needs to become more disciplined, WAY too many first downs given up and moved back because of penalities. A lot of it has to do with inexperience, but that excuse can only take a team so far. Fix this Erickson, you are supposed to be a hard ass.
Special teams follies - Weber's missed field goal, a blocked field goal (doesnt matter if it was overturned by a penalty), and weak field position all game long are not ways to win the game. Lou Groza winners also shouldnt be missing routine (~40 yard) field goals.
Simply a terrible performance by the Sun Devils. The team got their ass handed to them physically, the team was outcoached, the team was overmatched and should be embarassed. There is nothing to do but put their heads down and focus on USC, but at this point avoiding a total shaming should be the main goal.