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ASU Football: Positional Grades from Sun Devils’ bowl-clinching win at Oregon State

Dean’s list

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

For the first three-plus quarters, Saturday’s 40-24 win for the Arizona State Sun Devils was the team’s most complete game of the season. The Oregon State Beavers made it close late thanks to some sloppy play by the Sun Devils, but the result was never truly in doubt.

Quarterbacks: B+

While unspectacular, redshirt junior Manny Wilkins was as effective as he needed to be. He completed 12 of 19 passes for 167 yards and two scores, dictating the pace of play from start to finish. He gets a slight demerit for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter.

Running Backs: A+

Senior running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage each topped 100 yards rushing in a game for the first time this season and fourth time in their careers, doing so on 17 and 19 carries, respectively. Neither back had a negative carry in the game and Richard collected three of ASU’s five touchdowns, the most in a single game of his career.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A-

Without sophomore receiver N’Keal Harry on the field for the first quarter, his supporting cast thrived. Sophomores Frank Darby and Kyle Williams and freshman Curtis Hodges each caught passes from Wilkins, the latter two ending up in the end zone. When Harry came back, he was effective when thrown to, but also left the field multiple times with injuries. ASU needs him healthy moving forward, but it wasn’t a huge deal against overmatched Oregon State.

Offensive Line: A

Aside from a sack allowed in the second quarter and a false start by redshirt sophomore Zach Robertson, the offensive line mostly impressed. They allowed the backs to get going and kept the pocket relatively clean. Even when things broke down a little in pass protection, they were able to hold enough to let Wilkins escape. The line has come a long way since the beginning of the season when it was dominated by New Mexico State and is peaking at the right time.

Defensive Line: A

The Sun Devils were able to control the line of scrimmage all day long, allowing just one run by a running back to go for over 10 yards. Junior JoJo Wicker recorded a sack for a safety by forcing senior quarterback Darell Garretson to intentionally ground a pass in the end zone. Redshirt junior Renell Wren nearly ended the game by intercepting Garretson, but fumbled the ball back to the Beavers.

Linebackers: A

Redshirt junior Christian Sam continued his prolific tackling campaign, leading the Sun Devils with 10 stops. Junior Jay Jay Wilson recorded the only sack for a linebacker in the game. The sure tackling of the middle corps kept Oregon State’s running backs from getting too much room on the ground and that, along with a big deficit, forced Garretson back to pass more.

Defensive Backs: C+

For a mostly disciplined team, the defensive backfield was anything but. While SPUR is a mix of linebacker and defensive back, J’Marcus Rhodes was at his worst in pass coverage, getting called for two pass interference penalties on Oregon State’s final drive. Sophomore Kobe Williams picked up two PI penalties of his own and redshirt freshman Chase Lucas was tagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Against a better quarterback, ASU could have paid dearly. Instead, the Sun Devils still won by 16.

Special Teams: A-

Freshman Brandon Ruiz made his lone field goal attempt and all five PATs, as the star of the unit. Redshirt sophomore Michael Sleep-Dalton had two good punts, but also spun off a 13 yarder right before halftime that ultimately didn’t cost the team. The biggest thing ASU missed was not being prepared for a surprise onside kick by the Beavers in the fourth quarter, which led to a Beavers touchdown.