The Arizona State Sun Devils were finally able to get over the mountain last night (or tree I guess). After four straight losses, the Sun Devils topped the Stanford Cardinal 26-10 in a dominating performance in Tempe. Here were my takeaways from from the game.
1. The young Arizona State defense is hitting its stride: For the first time all season, the Arizona State defense led the way in a Sun Devi victory. Stanford mustered just 288 total yards and only 76 on the ground. This after giving up 143 yards to Buck Allen alone against USC two weeks ago.
The Sun Devil defensive line played its best game of the season, especially against the run. While both sacks came from the back seven, the defensive line applied pressure to Kevin Hogan in big situations and held the Stanford run game in check.
Antonio Longino collected eight tackles, Damarious Randall finished with seven tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery and Kweishi Brown tallied five pass breakups.
2. Mike Bercovici is a better passer than Taylor Kelly: "Passer" not "quarterback". Kelly is more mobile and better on the run. However, in his last two games Bercovici is completing 77-percent of his passes for 755 yards and six touchdowns. Most importantly, Bercovici hasn't thrown an interception since his first start against UCLA.
Bercovici goes through his progressions very well and does not make a lot of mistakes. He has a stronger arm than Kelly isn't afraid to check the ball down or even take a sack when he has to. At this point, Bercovici is the better pure passer.
3. Deantre Lewis is the No. 2 back for the Sun Devils: Deantre Lewis is like that 40-something pitcher who just keeps getting outs. He may have been passed up by younger players on the depth chart, but he is still very reliable when called upon. Lewis actually received the first carry of the game against Stanford and has put together three quality games in a row.
He averaged 4.7 yards per carry against Stanford, totaling 47 yards on 10 carries. The redshirt senior has surpassed freshman Damario Richard and Kalen Ballage as the team's No. 2 running back.
4. Laiu Moeakiola is the best player on the defense: The redshirt sophomore was all over the field Saturday night, collecting five tackles. Moeakiola set the tone for the night when he broke up a pass intended for Ty Montgomery on Stanford's first play from scrimmage.
Moeakiola is asked to do so much in the Arizona State defense. He covers wide receivers and tight ends and he is asked to help in running game. He is the most versatile defense player on the Arizona State defense and has been their best defender thus far this season.
5. Stanford is not the same team it was in 2013: Not to take anything away from Arizona State, but Stanford did not look like the team we saw in 2013, or years prior. The Cardinal had five penalties and committed numerous mental mistakes, including Montgomery's costly decision to field a punt over his shoulder.
Kevin Hogan was a pedestrian 19 of 39 Saturday night and the normally dominant Stanford offensive line struggled to open holes for the running game. The Cardinal fell out of the AP top 25 for the first time in four years on Sunday as it looks to be a bit of a rebuilding year for Stanford.