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ASU vs. WSU Game Balls: Richard, freshman defenders standout in loss to Cougars

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Arizona State jumped out of the gates to a 14-0 lead over the Washington State in the first quarter but were outscored 38-10 from there on out.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

As winter winds begin to sweep the Valley and highs of 70 approach the soon to be frozen tundra of Sun Devil Stadium, rations are dwindling and morale is low for the Sun Devil faithful.

ASU returns from Pullman with consistency issues on offense and a defense that gave up 512 yards to Mike Leach's patented air raid system.

Arizona State now sits at 4-5 and needs to win two of its last three games to ensure bowl eligibility.

Despite what was a disappointing loss, we look for the sunny side of things in this column and will still give out some game balls.

Demario Richard, RB - No. 4 (Sophomore)

Richard gets a game ball for his great start to the game, being the most consistent presence on offense and it seems to be that the sophomore back has worked on the ball security issues that plagued him earlier in the season.

Finishing with 111 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, Richard has now tallied 775 rushing yards this season and will eclipse the 1,000-yard mark if he maintains his average for the remaining games. The depth that ASU has at the running back position, with Kalen Ballage and freshman Jason Lewis, should give ASU fans reasons for hope in the near future.

Kareem Orr, DB - No. 25 (Freshman)

Another takeaway, another game ball for the freshman defensive back.

Orr nabbed his team-leading fourth interception early in the first quarter and is a definite bright spot in the Sun Devil secondary moving forward.

Next season, the defense will rely on a young secondary and Orr will have increased expectations because of his solid rookie season in maroon and gold.

Ismael Murphy-Richardson, LB - No. 17 (Redshirt Freshman)

Filling in the Antonio Longino, who hurt his hamstring on Thursday, the redshirt freshman from right here in the Valley stepped up admirably.

Murphy-Richardson showed flashes of why he was such a highly sought after pass rusher coming out of Desert Edge High School in Goodyear with a sack and a hurry in the loss on Saturday.

I could see Graham throwing some young guys like Murphy-Richardson in the mix more on defense for live reps and experience going into next season.