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ASU Football: The Key Lessons Learned from the Loss to Oregon

Other than "Oregon is pretty damn good", here are the key takeaways from Thursday's game

DJ Foster is good at football
DJ Foster is good at football
Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

It may have been tempting to close your eyes for most of the game or change the channel, but if you managed to watch the entirety of Arizona State's 43-21 loss to the Oregon Ducks, you may have learned the following lessons.

Will Sutton is the Devils' MVP

If I had a vote for the NFL MVP award, I would have topped my 2011 ballot with Peyton Manning. After nine straight double-digit win seasons with Manning at the helm, the Colts managed just a pair of wins without him. To me, that clearly illustrates that he was the league's most valuable player, without having to take a snap.

On Thursday, Will Sutton needed just two snaps to do the same. While forcing a fumble on Oregon's second play, Sutton injured his right knee and was knocked out of the game.

His absence in the middle of the ASU defensive line was massive. Without the midseason All-American shooting the gaps and wreaking havoc, Oregon opened up huge hole after huge hole and ran for days, eventually totaling 406 yards on the ground.

Would Sutton's presence changed the result of the game? No, very unlikely. But it certainly would have been far more competitive, and his value to what was the nation's eighth-best defense (soon to plummet) was clear. Thankfully, Sutton's diagnosis was positive and he is listed as "week to week". Hopefully, he will be back soon.

TK is a Work in Progress

ASU fans had gotten spoiled with Taylor Kelly. In posting the nation's third-best passer rating over his first six starts, including a perfect 11-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio in Pac-12 play, Kelly emerged as one of the biggest surprises in all of college football.

Then Oregon happened. Kelly struggled mightily in the face of an aggressive Duck pass rush, rushing his reads and making bad decisions, two of which were intercepted and returned near the ASU goal line.

Given his high-level of play and the poise he has shown, it's not hard to forget that Kelly is but a redshirt sophomore who just went through the seventh game of real playing time in his college career. There's going to be plenty of days where Kelly lights up the scoreboard, and there's going to be a few clunkers along the way.

Not Ready For Prime Time

Heading into Thursday's game, many thought that the Sun Devils were primed to blackout the Ducks and join the ranks of the nation's elite en route to a Rose Bowl.


The game clearly demonstrated that for now, there is Oregon, a large gap, and then the rest of the Pac-12. The Sun Devils are a team on the rise, their best days under Todd Graham are in the coming years, and there are generally a lot of reasons to feel great about the program.

There's just going to be some bumps along the way.

Lining Up For the Field Goal... doubt, fear and an ulcer.

For the second straight week, the Sun Devils made a change at kicker. A week after giving the struggling Alex Garoutte's job to Jon Mora, Garoutte regained his spot. He got his chance to show the staff they made the right decision in the first quarter with the team trailing 8-7.

However, Garoutte's 43-yard kick had no chance, as the ball sailed wide right. That marked his fifth miss this season in just 11 attempts.

The five-year long run of ASU field goal kicking woes marches on for another week...

No Quit

Giving up 43 points in the game's 19 minutes would put just about any team out of the game. It would be understandable if the players on the wrong end started to mail it in.

Yet, that didn't happen with the Sun Devils. Todd Graham's boys continued to fight on every play, and while the results left much to be desired and the Ducks' dominance was clear, ASU never showed any quit.

Whether it was Brandon Magee chasing down Ducks or D.J. Foster making cut after cut after cut on the way to the endzone, it was great to see that the team continued to Speak Victory even when a win was not possible.

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