Now that we have had time to dissect what happened late Saturday night in Corvallis, it is time break down what happened on the field. More importantly, it is time to discuss what we can takeaway from the Arizona State defeat.
1. Big plays cost Arizona State the game:
Todd Graham stated in the preseason that the achilles heel of the defense in 2013 was surrendering explosive plays. Well, against Oregon State the Sun Devil defense did just that. All four of Oregon State's offensive touchdowns came from outside of 20 yards, three of them came from outside of 60 yards.
The Arizona State defense did not allow Oregon State to drive the length of the field and put up points but one time. Oregon State had two running backs over 100 yards and as a team averaged 6.7 yards per attempt.
What typically causes these explosive plays is pre-snap miscommunications from the defensive personal or mental errors during the play. Two things that Graham hates the most.
2. The Sun Devils still have not found a No. 2 receiver behind Jaelen Strong:
Strong finished the game with nine catches for 103 yards. The other wide receives on the roster combined to catch just one pass, a 15-yard gain by Cameron Smith. Arizona State still has not found a consistent No. 2 option behind Strong.
D.J. Foster caught eight passes for 65 yards for a touchdown, but he is also needed in the running game. Ellis Jefferson and Gary Chambers were absent against Oregon State and the Arizona State tight ends continue to be inconsistent.
3. The Sun Devils have no vertical passing game:
Taylor Kelly has made one really good vertical throw since returning from injury and that was the bomb to Cameron Smith against Notre Dame. Against Oregon State, Kelly was inaccurate and constantly under throwing wide receivers.
While there is no quarterback controversy (even though many will argue Bercovici has been better this year), the Sun Devils have an interesting dilemma. With Bercovici, the running game suffers (especially the read option) but the downfield passing game thrives. With Kelly, the Sun Devils run the ball better but the big plays in the passing game disappear.
4. The program has come a long way:
It was almost surreal to see a team rush the field after beating Arizona State. It just speaks to how far this program has come. Playing 10 true freshman and replacing nine starters on defense, the Sun Devils rose to No. 6 in the country and were in national title discussions.
It was a tough loss and fans are frustrated, but every team in the country has frustrating losses during the season. Once the hunter, this Sun Devil program is beginning to become the hunted, which is a good thing.
5. The Sun Devils were not ready to be hunted:
After playing the upper echelon of the conference for the past six weeks, Arizona State finally played a Pac-12 bottom-feeder, and they could not handle being the favorite. No matter what the players and coaches said or tweeted, the Sun Devils came out flat.
When the team was up 24-14 in the third quarter, they could not execute well enough to put the Beavers away. There were missed field goals, turnovers and penalties that extended key Beaver drives.
This was Arizona State's first taste of being the hunted team in the conference. A position that Oregon, Alabama and Florida State have been in for years. It was a new position for the Sun Devils and they failed their first test.
What were your takeaways from Saturday night's loss? Let us know in the comment section below.