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ASU Football: Positional grades vs. Washington

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How did the Sun Devils grade out against the Huskies?

Stephen Brashear

It wasn't the prettiest win for the Sun Devils Saturday in Seattle, but they got the job done in ugly conditions against a Washington team which looked decent at times against an improved Sun Devil defense. Here are our positional grades against Washington.

Quarterback: B

Taylor Kelly could have played better, a lot better in fact, but got the job done. It's unclear if the pass heavy offense the Sun Devils run with Mike Bercovici would have been as effective with the heavy winds. John Timu's interception return for a touchdown didn't end up costing the Sun Devils but put Washington right back in the game at 10-7 when it happened. Kelly finished 14 of 25 for 180 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Given the conditions, it was somewhat admirable, but he also could have gotten rid of the ball a lot quicker in certain situations. Kelly looked fine running the ball, but a possible conussion suffered on the Gary Chambers touchdown play has put Kelly's availability in question again.

Running back: B-

The Sun Devils had 105 total rushing yards Saturday, but it sure didn't feel like it. Arizona State tried their best to establish the running game, carrying the ball 43 times on the ground, but never really seemed to find that much success outside of a few runs. Averaging 2.4 yards rushing with Kelly at the helm isn't that promising. Play calling stunted the Sun Devils progress in certain situations such as the goal line stand, but D.J. Foster didn't hit the holes like he usually does and is capable of doing.

Offensive line: C-

Kelly was sacked seven times against Washington. As touched upon earlier, part of that was Kelly holding onto the ball a lot. The game-winning touchdown drive was the best the line looked all night, but Hau'oli Kikaha's skills as a pass rusher were on full display when he got to Kelly twice in one set of downs. It left a lot to be desired and Kikaha alongside Shelton is one of the best defensive duos in the Pac-12, still, this unit could have played a lot better.

Wide receivers: C+

There just wasn't anything special about this group Saturday. Jaelen Strong and D.J. Foster both had dropped passes and Marcus Peters did a phenomenal job in coverage most of the night. Gary Chambers had a stumbling touchdown catch, but Kelly failed to find a lot of receivers in space. No one was able to create good separation.

Defensive line: B

The defensive line was fairly quiet most of the night. The drive that ended in a field goal which tied the game at 10 was a downright disaster and the Sun Devils were fortunate to let up just three points there. Shaq Thompson had 104 yards on 21 carries and the Huskies finished with 151 yards on the ground. That being said, they got the stops when they mattered the most and kept contain when John Ross zig-zagged back and forth trying to gain yards. Edmond Boateng had his best game of the season with five tackles and a tackle for loss and Marcus Hardison did step up with four tackles and two sacks.

Linebackers: B+

Laiu Moeakiola continues to be a forced to be reckoned with, recording 10 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and two sacks. Salamo Fiso also stepped up when Arizona State needed him to stop a drive that looked like it would give Washington its first lead of the night but only ended in a field goal. Fiso finished with six tackles and while Antonio Longino seemingly regressed a little from his Stanford performance, still showed some prowess in his tackling abilities.

Secondary/ Cornerbacks: A-

Redshirt freshman Troy Williams was 18 of 26 for 139 yards and 0 touchdowns. Jordan Simone, in his home state, recorded 10 tackles and his second interception of the season. Damarious Randall had eight tackles and Lloyd Carrington had six. Kweishi Brown finished with five tackles, two for loss. Armand Perry also had an interception return for a touchdown to seal the win. Should he have stayed in bounds to just let Taylor Kelly kneel out the clock? Probably, but it's not fair to blame a true freshman who has his eyes set on six points to score the touchdown. Joshua Perkins led the way for the Huskies with just three catches for 44 yards. Washington's biggest asset in the passing game is John Ross' big play ability, he had one catch for negative two yards and Arizona State didn't give up any pass play over 29 yards on the night. The secondary was able to keep the Huskies fairly one dimensional most of the night and it helped the Sun Devils' cause tremendously.

Special teams: B

On a windy night, the kicking game was surprisingly strong. Matt Haack averaged 46.6 yards per punt on five total punts. Zane Gonzalez nailed his only field goal attempt of the night from 33 yards out. The one misstep was the botched snap to Mike Bercovici on another field goal attempt. Kyle Middlebrooks only had one punt return for 11 yards, but many of Washington punter Korey Durkee's seven punts were uncatchable and bounced most of the way to their final destination. Arizona State held John Ross to 67 yards on three kickoff returns, although they were lucky to have one called back on a holding penalty that Ross returned inside the Sun Devils' 20-yard line before he was caught by Damarious Randall. This grade gets knocked down because of the mishandled field goal snap and would-have-been long kickoff return, but it was still a pretty solid performance by the special teams considering how the unit started off the season.