ASU vs. Oregon State: Position Grades for the Sun Devils' 36-26 Loss

Steve Dykes

We hand out our position-by-position grades for the Sun Devils' loss to Oregon State

Another fast start, another terrible finish for Arizona State.

The Sun Devils took a 7-0 lead just 21 second into the night, and had a 19-10 edge in the second quarter. But the offense ground to a halt, the defense broke down in coverage, and the team slogged its way lifelessly to a third consecutive loss.

We know hand out some position grades that will surely hurt the ol' GPA.

Quarterback: D-

Last week, Taylor Kelly seemed to take a step forward. Outside of one bad interception, he was very good in the loss to UCLA, including the final drive in which he tossed the go-ahead touchdown pass. This week, Kelly took three steps back.

He hit his first six passes, and then...it all went to hell. Kelly regressed in the face of Oregon State's pressure, showing bad footwork, poor decision making and was inaccurate throughout the night, missing several open targets. His numbers: 22 of 41 for 153 yards, one touchdown and one interception, don't illustrate his poor play all night. The coaching staff did him now favors with the playcalling, but the fact remains that the highly efficient quarterback we've seen over most of the season was nowhere to be found on Saturday.

Running Back: Incomplete

Objectively, the Sun Devils running backs were about a B. The trio of Cameron Marshall, D.J. Foster and Marion Grice combined for 78 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown, and added eight catches for 52 yards and a score. But offensive coordinator Mike Norvell did not utilize the group, principally Foster and Grice, nearly enough. Foster, the offense's best weapon, had just seven touches and Grice wasn't really involved in the passing game until Oregon State was in prevent with the game already won. When the backs were used, the team moved the ball.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: D-

One factor in Kelly's struggles was the inability of his receivers to get open downfield. Time after time, Kelly dropped back and either scrambled or had to settle for an ineffective dump off. The wide receivers and tight ends combined for 101 yards on 14 catches, and that 7.2 yards-per-catch illustrates the lack of plays. Chris Coyle had five receptions for 28 yards, and Jamal Miles had five quick screens for 26. Add in some drops, and it was a long night in Corvallis.

Offensive Line: C-

The Sun Devil front line didn't allow many big plays on paper—two sacks, five tackles-for-loss—and they paved the way for 150 yards rushing and a 4.7 per-carry mark. But the group was unable to hold back the Oregon State defensive line. Kelly was often under pressure, and the Sun Devils never were able to control the point of attack.

Defensive Line: C+

The Sun Devil defensive line was shown exactly what they were missing with the return of Will Sutton. The heart of the defense was not nearly to 100% after his knee injury, but he was still able to get some penetration and register a sack. The defensive front was able to generate some good pressure in the first half, especially Carl Bradford who played as a defensive end early on. However, without Sutton, whose reps were limited, and Onyeali, who found the bench after a stupid roughing the passer penalty allowed OSU to extend a field goal drive, the unit was often blown off the ball and gashed with the run.

Linebacker: C-

Early on, the linebackers were effective on blitzes, with Brandon Magee and Steffon Martin able to apply pressure, but later on, some bad habits reemerged. The unit was unable to contain the Oregon State running attack, surrendering 224 yards to Terron Ward (146), and being unable to contain sweeps by Wheaton and Agnew. The tackling was again the issue, as poor technique resulted in many runs gaining lots of yards after contact. Magee again showed no quit, finishing with 12 tackles and a sack, and

Secondary: F

A dreadful night for the secondary resulted in a loss in Corvallis and unwanted flashbacks of 2011. It started in the first quarter when Keelan Johnson took a bad angle and was late in his assignment, allowing Markus Wheaton to run free on a 50-yard score. Johnson later missed a tackle as the last line of defense on Terron Ward's 53-yard score. Deveron Carr had another awful night, being burned on many occasions, including Wheaton's 17-yard score. The secondary also badly botched their coverage in the fourth quarter that allowed Brandin Cooks to run wide open on a 49-yard touchdown.

Special Teams: B

First, the good. Kevin Ayers earned the team a safety with a blocked punt, Josh Hubner was again fantastic, blasting a 66 yard kick and averaging 47.3 on the night. However, Jon Mora badly shanked a 37-yard field goal attempt, and the coverage teams gave up some nice returns on the night. With Hubner leaving next year and the continued unease at kicker, 2013 will be tough for the specialists.

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