Continuing our series of detailed breakdowns of 2011's finest moments is a scoring play that proved to be not only a game-winning score, but a validation--at least at the time--of the massive hype surrounding the team.
After an entire offseason of hope and optimism that "It's Time" for Sun Devil greatness, the team faced a stiff challenge in Week 2. They were hosting the No. 21 Missouri Tigers on a Friday night in front of a national television audience, and were holding a "Blackout" with their new uniforms.
The Tigers had rallied from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit to tie it, and were set up to win it with just 17 seconds left. However, Grant Ressel missed a 48-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. Missouri won the toss and elected to defend first.
A third down reception by Aaron Pflugrad had given ASU a new set of downs inside the Tiger 10-yard line, but a first down rush by Cameron Marshall lost two yards. This set up a second and goal from the Tiger 11.
The Devils came out in a three-wide set, with Osweiler in a shotgun and Marshall lined up to his right and Jamal Miles to his left. Mike Willie was split wide to the right, with Gerell Robinson in the slot. George Bell was wide left.
Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone made no secret about his love for the swing pass, with Miles his favorite target on those plays, so he called for a swing to the right.
Miles was in motion to the right and veered behind Osweiler as the ball was snapped. Osweiler faked the handoff to Marshall as the running back ran to the left. After the fake, Osweiler immediatly turned 90-degrees to his right and fired a pass out to the streaking Miles in the flat. After the catch, Miles turns straight upfield and hits the jets.
A swing play's success is dependent on downfield blocking, and this is where ASU excelled. Robinson threw the most crucial initial block. He immediately engaged cornerback Robert Steeples just three yards downfield, and with a 30-pound advantage over the 190-pound defensive back, Robinson was able to have his way with him. Willie ran down to the goal line, where he successfully tied up E.J. Gaines with his block.
Right tackle Dan Knapp released off the line on the snap, and with his great mobility (being a former tight end), streaked down the field to lead a convoy that also included right guard Andrew Sampson. With Robinson and Willie having neutralized the defensive backs, the lone remaining Tiger with a chance to make a play was Kenji Jackson, who had raced over from the middle of the field. The 277-pound Knapp leveled the 200-pounder, clearing the road for Miles. Even though Gaines and linebacker Luke Lambert were able to get a hand on Miles at the three-yard line, it was too late, as Miles' momentum carried him into the endzone for the eventual game-winner.
It was simply a magnificent piece of downfield blocking by both the wide receivers and hustling offensive linemen.
Missouri had their chance to answer back, going to work from ASU's 25-yard line.
Two James Franklin rushes netted nothing, and on third down he made a five-yard completion to Wes Kemp. That set up the defining play on fourth down.
The play was undone thanks to heavy pressure from defensive end Jamaar Jarrett, and Franklin heaved up a prayer that went unanswered as ASU held on for a 37-30 win.
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