This afternoon on a warm, sunny day in Tempe, Washington State takes the field against the Sun Devils in a battle of conference bottom-feeders. At 1-9, Wazzu is awful. At 3-6, ASU is not much better. I expect ASU to take care of business, but still.
Keep your eyes peeled on this game thread, because I will be in the press box reporting live on the game, with insights and analysis you won't find anywhere else.
1:46 PM: I am in the press box, and just watched Jacquizz (edit: James) Rodgers explode for a touchdown against Cal to tie it at 7 in the first quarter. Down on Frank Kush Field, some kids are attempting field goals at the north end, and two undisclosed players are tossing a ball on the south end. No fans in the stadium yet, and most purple ProEm shirts are seated and waiting for the action to begin.
2:00 PM: Drinking a Coke Zero and getting a little antsy. I have to wait another hour and a half for this game?
2:16 PM: The press box is an interesting place, filled with media and scouts from the NFL. No specific teams will be divulged, but it is good to know that there are players on ASU (or, I suppose, WSU) that the professional teams think are worth looking at.
2:25 PM: The truly dedicated student fans are in the stands, with the front rows of sections 31, 32, and 33 covered in gold. Right now, I'd say there are 80-100 students in the section, sitting in the warm sun and getting more sober by the minute. Get back out into the tailgate! The field is being used by some WSU players to stretch.
2:40 PM: There is no TV broadcast of this game, and for good reason. Sun Devil Trivia: Frank Kush began his head coaching career at Arizona State in 1958.
2:48 PM: Thomas Weber is practicing his field goal attempts. He was true on all his tries from 47 yards, and now he is practicing 52 yard field goals. Weber is still in a cast from his broken arm. His first attempt was wide right. His second was a perfect kick that hit the "a" in Allstate.
2:57 PM: The wide receivers and running backs are running drills. They started with quick slant routes, trying to catch hard-thrown balls. Now they are working on over the shoulder catches. McGaha dropped a slant pass and looked furious with himself; Nance dropped one as well and didn't seem quite as upset. But that is just visual emotion, who knows how he truly feels.
3:00 PM: The stadium is still nearly empty, with only small pockets of fans currently seated. The student section is naturally the most full at this point, and I imagine that fans will filter in as the game nears closer. It is far too nice out in Lot 59 to come this WSU/ASU 35 minutes early.
3:07 PM: On my right is a TV broadcasting Minnesota @ Wisconsin, and my thoughts are with the hurt Badger on the field. Apparently, they are bringing out an ambulance and taking him to the nearest hospital. Hopefully he isn't permanently damaged. You can read the live blogging from Camp Randall at The Daily Gopher.
3:25 PM: 11 minutes to kickoff. Running with the Devils begins playing over the loudspeakers, and the tunnel is made for the team to run out of. Let the excitement build!.... The stadium is woefully underfilled, but there is a solid stream of maroon and gold coming through the turnstiles.
3:32 PM: The fireworks have fillled the air with smoke, but it is quickly dissipating. The weather conditions: clear, sunny skies, 81 degrees, humidity level 9%, Winds SE at 7 mph. In honor of homecoming, the Sun Devils are wearing old-school helmets! Recreation of the old design, worn from 1976-1979. A maroon sun with a gold ASU letting in the middle.
3:35 PM: The Sun Devils are going to receive the kickoff, driving towards the north endzone. Kyle Williams is back in the lineup for ASU today, ready to return the kick. Washington State tried some trickery immediately, trying an onside kick in a regular kickoff formation. #37 Mike Callaghan caught it and the Sun Devils start with a overthrown pass to an open Chris McGaha.
3:40 PM: The Sun Devils had an opportunity to inflict some early damage on the Cougars, and on 3rd and 8 Carpenter completed a pass to Kerry Taylor for the first down. Now at the Cougar 47, the Devils are well on their way to a score. DeWitty is currently the feature back.
3:41 PM: Rudy was sacked on consecutive plays by the Cougars. With their new 3-4 formation, I am surprised that they are able to get so much pressure on Carpenter up to this point. Weber's punt flies out the back of the end zone, and Lopina starts the drive for the Cougars at the 20. Their first play is a run by Tardy for 4 yards.
3:45 PM: The Devils blitzed 5, and Lopina was able to get it out just in time for a 30 yard passing gain. Now at the Sun Devil 44, their drive continues. Lopina just got tackled by Wooten. for a loss, and now it is 3rd and 15. They complete a 11 yard pass, but it is not enough to get a first down, or into field goal range. But with a 1-9 record, what can you do? The Cougs are going for it on 4th and 4. Lopina rolls out right and completes a pass to #85, Jeshua Anderson. First down at the 28 for the Cougs.
3:48 PM: The Cougars aren't doing anything fancy, but basic out routes are working against the Sun Devils. They are attempting to emulate USC's offensive plan against ASU, but without the team speed the Cougars are finding themselves tackled behind the line fairly frequently. On 4th down, the Cougars unsuccessfully attempt a 41-yard field goal, and the first bullet of the afternoon is avoided by ASU.
3:52 PM: Keegan Herring has checked into the game for the Sun Devils, and on his first attempt loses 3 yards. 2nd and 23, Rudy finds Pettes open and he gains a handful of yards. 3rd down and very long.
3:53 PM: More of the same mediocrity from ASU, unable to move the ball at all. Weber once again punts, but this time it is a beauty: rolls all the way to the Cougar 13.
3:57 PM: Lopina nearly throws a pick, but Nolan is unable to reel it in. That was a golden opportunity for a team with no momentum. 2nd down, RB Staden loses 3 yards, and now it is 3rd and 13. ASU shows blitz from its LOLB and MLB, but drops back into zone coverage. WSU is unable to gain any yardage on the inside slant pass, but ASU was offsides, and now it is 3rd and 8. WSU in shotgun with 2 RBs. ASU sends 5 and Lopina is sacked by Dexter Davis! Loss of 6. Punt!
4:02 PM: McGaha shakes a defender and gains a bunch of yards, down to the 32. On the next play, Herring gains 4 on the ground, and it is 2nd and 6. McGaha is the target once again, and he picks up a Sun Devil first down with a 14 yard gain. The offense looks like it is finally clicking. Here ends the first quarter. Boy, this game is moving quickly so far.
Start of 2nd Quarter
4:05 PM: The offensive cannot take advantage of field position inside the 5 yard line, and Weber is now attempting an extra-point distance field goal. It's good!
4:08 PM: There is a flag down on the return. Holding on WSU, and they now start their drive at the 14 yard line. As if they needed a longer road to the end zone. Lopina passes to Brandon Gibson for no gain. Another passing play, this time to Anderson, but they only pick up 3 yards, and it is 3rd and 7 from the 16.5 yard line. Out of the shotgun, Lopina finds Tardy, but he is one yard short of the first. WSU will punt again.
4:14 PM: Carpenter is "sacked" as he ran out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage. On 2nd and 13, he passes to Kimbrough for a 11 yard gain. 3rd and 2.
4:15 PM: Carpenter's pass incomplete to Jones. It looked like pass interference to me, as the Cougar was riding him all the way across the field. Punt time.
4:17 PM: At this point, I am going to move the commentary to the "comments" section; it will be easy for you to join the conversation with me there.