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ASU Football: Positional grades from Sun Devils’ 37-35 win over No. 24 Oregon

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The sky isn’t falling, after all

Oregon v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona State Sun Devils ended their 10-game losing streak to the Oregon Ducks Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium. In doing so, ASU had its most well-rounded game of the season with some stark improvement on the back end and across the offensive line.

Quarterbacks: B

Redshirt junior Manny Wilkins was more effective on the ground against Oregon than he was through the air. Wilkins completed 24 of 39 passes for 347 yards and a score, but toted in two more touchdowns on the ground. Wilkins missed a lot of throws deep down the field and threw incomplete on third down with a chance to clinch the game, but he was effective in maneuvering the ball down the field to put the Sun Devils in position to win. He was also nearly intercepted a couple times, but the interceptionless streak lives on.

Running backs: B-

For the first time this season, senior Demario Richard became the bell cow back late in a game for the Sun Devils, and it worked. In the fourth quarter, Richard carried the ball eight times for 35 yard to put the Sun Devils in position to finish of the victory. The yards per carry isn’t where it needs to be for either Richard or senior Kalen Ballage, but the ability to convert in short yardage is slowly getting there.

Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends: A-

For the first time in ASU history, five different Sun Devil wide receivers have gone over 100 yards in a game. Saturday, it was redshirt junior Jalen Harvey’s turn, catching eight passes for 133 yards, seven of which went for first downs. Sophomore N’Keal Harry had himself a day, as well, making seven catches for 170 yards and catching Wilkins’ lone touchdown.

Offensive Line: B-

The protection group did its job for the most part at protecting the quarterback. Wilkins went through stretches of running around in the backfield, but was usually able to sit in the pocket and deliver passes. The line allowed 13 tackles for loss, including four sacks of Wilkins, but got push on ASU’s final scoring drive, giving Richard enough room to matriculate the ball into field goal range.

Defensive Line: B

The fact that the Sun Devils led for a majority of the game kept Oregon from utilizing senior Royce Freeman, so each run was important to fill. The defensive line did a good enough job, limiting Freeman to 81 yards. Junior JoJo Wicker forced a fumble that led to a field goal and he and senior A.J. Latu spent a lot of time in the Duck backfield. On the negative, a roughing the passer penalty on senior Tashon Smallwood nearly propelled Oregon to a go-ahead scoring drive late in the fourth quarter.

Linebackers: B

Other than redshirt junior Christian Sam getting sonned by sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert on his go-ahead touchdown run, the linebacking corps held its own against Oregon. Freeman and Herbert were bottled up on the ground, for the most part, and the tackling was sure.

Secondary: C+

Redshirt freshman Chase Lucas was targeted a lot by Herbert, but he was up to the task, recording eight stops. Redshirt junior safety Das Tautalatasi lived and died by the big hit, giving up a huge play to redshirt sophomore tight end Jacob Breeland by missing a tackle in the fourth quarter.

Special Teams: B-

Freshman kicker Brandon Ruiz was the hero for ASU, but there was a lot that went bad from the Sun Devil special teams. Redshirt sophomore punter Michael Sleep-Dalton was inconsistent kicking the ball, averaging just 37.1 yards per kick, and redshirt sophomore Ryan Newsome muffed a punt inside the 15-yard line that gifted Oregon a touchdown at the end of the first half.