The national championship hopes for Arizona State were short lived. The Sun Devils fell hard in Corvallis to Oregon State due in part to offensive inefficiency, scoring just three points in the second half while allowing 21 more points. On paper, Arizona State did some things well, but on a cold evening in Corvallis they weren't prepared for what came at them with a target on their backs.
Taylor Kelly didn't seem like himself Saturday night. He hit just 22 of 44 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions. Whether or not that's a product of the play calling, supporting cast or even the weather can also be disputed, but it's still Kelly letting the ball fly. There were balls that should have at least been in the area of the receivers which were greatly overthrown. He was sacked twice and threw an interception which was returned for a touchdown to put OSU up eight points. Offensive inefficiency is not what the Sun Devils' offense is set up to do, it failed in the second half last night and it starts with Kelly under center.
Running backs: C-
This is a higher grade because D.J. Foster and Demario Richard hit their holes when they could, it's just they more often then not weren't there. Foster finished with 51 yards on 14 carries and Richard added 37 yards on seven carries. If anything, the Sun Devils should have gone to these two players more often when the passing game clearly wasn't at its best. The drive which made it 14-10 in the first half was helped tremendously by Foster on the ground, but this group clearly underproduced.
Wide receivers: D+
Cameron Smith, Foster and Jaelen Strong seemingly all had a drop or two at different points in the night. While Foster and Kody Kohl caught touchdowns, it was Strong who had the best night with nine receptions for 103 yards. The wide receivers and Kelly weren't on the same page for whatever reason most of the night, evidenced by his 50 percent completion percentage. While it is Kelly's job to put the ball in the right spot, some of those also fall on the receivers which is why they get the same grade.
Offensive line: D-
The Oregon State defensive line was absolutely one of the worst in the Pac-12 coming into this game, they somehow mustered two sacks and six tackles for loss against Arizona State. The Sun Devils running game was also inefficient and some of Kelly's missed throws came because of pressure and hurries in the backfield too. Poor night for this group.
Defensive line: C-
This was the toughest grade to give out this week. On one hand, the Sun Devils allowed 247 yards rushing on the ground. Those yards came in huge chunks at a time though, not a long drawn out rushing attack by Oregon State. Marcus Hardison arguably had the best game of anybody for Arizona State last night, accumulating three tackles for loss and two sacks while forcing a fumble that led to a touchdown. While it wasn't anywhere close to what Arizona State hoped for, he was definitely a bright spot.
D.J. Calhoun had his best game in a while with five tackles, two for loss. Antonio Longino also had a scoop and score for a touchdown. For as much as Todd Graham blitzes, however, Calhoun's two tackles for loss were the only ones by a linebacker. The defensive line gave Mannion more trouble. Salamo Fiso and Laiu Moeakiola combined for just eight tackles. When Oregon State has that much success in the running game, part of the issue is always tackling and not wrapping up after flying to the ball when the rusher hits the second level.
Mannion was 19 of 33 for 251 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Jordan Villamin had four receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown for the Beavers, including a 67-yard touchdown catch to put OSU up 28-27. James Johnson and Kweishi Brown led the team with seven tackles each. Damarious Randall had five tackles and an interception which sparked the Sun Devils to start playing with fervor in the first half. There is at least somewhat of an asterisk here too because Jordan Simone left the game after a hard hit in the second half. While Mannion was just okay, the Sun Devils were really hurt by the OSU run game which this group can't do too much about outside of trying to make a tackle at the last second.
Special teams: B
Kyle Middlebrooks fair caught one of the only catchable punts of the day while Matt Haack averaged 43.3 yards on four punts. Zane Gonzalez missed a field goal wide left in the first half which is the only reason this grade is getting knocked down at all.