There are no positives Arizona State can take away from its embarrassing 38-14 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship.
Taylor Kelly appeared timid and lost. Jaelen Strong was ineffective. Chris Coyle didn't record one catch. Zane Gonzalez ended his streak of 18 straight made field goals. The defense started the game by allowing four consecutive touchdowns. The list goes on.
All the negatives overshadowed the remarkable performance from D.J. Foster, who earned our sole game ball award.
Once Marion Grice suffered an undisclosed injury in the game against UCLA Sun Devil nation didn't panic. The reason? Foster. Obviously the loss of Grice hurt. Although, Foster made the transition into the featured running back smoothly.
On the ground, Foster gained 62 yards (eight carries) and one touchdown. Despite spending more time in the backfield, the receiving element Foster boasts was still on display. Foster hauled in four receptions, 80 yards and one touchdown. 142 yards against the Stanford defense rarely happens.
The trips to pay dirt weren't on cheap short-yardage situations. Both were highlight reel plays. Foster bursted through the hole on a stretch run for a 51-yard touchdown. Before the praise of Foster continues, left tackle Evan Finkenberg and center Kody Kobensky also deserve credit for the run. Foster turned the expected 10-yard gain into the 51-yard touchdown, as he stopped on a dime and showcased a second gear of speed. The score knotted the game up at seven with 11:54 left in the first quarter.
Foster made the crowd erupt again on his 65-yard touchdown reception. Kelly dumped it out to Foster, the check down option, and Foster took care of the rest. Foster got hit within one second of catching the rock behind the line of scrimmage, and he somehow stiff armed the Stanford linebacker and tiptoed down the sideline for the six points. It was arguably the best Arizona State play of the season. Foster isn't known for bulldozing over opponents -- most people know him for his track speed and precise cuts. Now defenses must respect his underrated strength.
The night ended prematurely for Foster because of a knee ailment. Foster unsuccessfully tried to re-enter the contest and was limping badly. Foster has battled knee problems off and on throughout the season.
Arizona State won't have fond memories of this Pac-12 championship, but at least the future looks bright with Foster at the helm in the backfield.