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ASU Football: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly vs. Oregon State

A record was set on offense but does it cover up the struggles the Devils faced defensively?

Andrew Palla/House of Sparky

The Good

Isn’t it obvious?

When your sophomore running back breaks a school rushing record that has been held for 45 years, you hand him ‘the good’.

Eno Benjamin trampled over the Oregon State Defense for the first 300-yard rushing performance in school history. He also found the end zone three times on the ground and once in the air.

If you asked Benjamin, he admits he had no idea that he was on the verge of a record.

“I think Isaiah Floyd was like, ‘I think you’ve broken a record’ and I went like, ‘Quit playing, do you know how many great backs have come through here?” Benjamin said. “There’s no way this is going to be a record.’ He kept bugging me about it, saying, ‘I think this is a record,’ and I almost had to tell him to shut up on the sideline because I didn’t think it was at all.”

Benjamin totaled 312 yards to break the record previously held by Ben Malone in 1973, when Malone totaled 250 yards, also against Oregon State.

While that part of the offense was great, there was another that suffered statistically.

The Bad

The pass game was on the low-end for the second-consecutive week.

An improvement from last week for Manny Wilkins but still considered poor against a defense that had given up so much on the ground already.

Statistically against Washington, it was one of Wilkins’ worst performances in his career. 17 of 27 for just 104 yards and a QBR of just 54.4 percent.

This past Saturday, Wilkins threw the ball less with Benjamin’s run game. 14 of 25 for 162 yards, three touchdowns and he improved his QBR by over 20 percent.

It is cause for concern should Wilkins continue to perform this way the rest of the season with the remaining opponents; including the undefeated Colorado Buffaloes this Saturday on the road.

Wilkins has also yet to be victorious on the road this season.

While Benjamin’s performance carried the Devils on Saturday, the opposite side of the field presented a glaring issue that led to several opportunities for the Beavers offense.

The Ugly

The rushing game was certainly no issue for the ASU offense, but the ASU defense gave up several yards and opportunities on the ground.

The defense allowed 267 yards on the ground, including a big 45-yard gain by OSU’s Jermar Jefferson. Jefferson additionally averaged 8.2 yards per carry.

“When a big play happens, you’ve got to let it go,” said coach Herm Edwards after the 52-24 victory Saturday night. “You can’t let it affect you. Football is all about momentum and you can’t let one play become a bad series of plays.”

Defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales shared the frustration with coach Edwards following the game as well.

“You saw the epitome of a bunch of young guys running around that did not handle adversity well after a big play,” Gonzales said. “It kind of snowballed, we’re not very [emotionally] mature right now, we gotta get better at that.”

It was a glaring issue on third down as well. The Devils allowed the Beavers to convert on seven of 16 attempts, something that linebacker Malik Lawal attributes at times to not being able to pressure the quarterback.

“At one point in time the [defensive backs] are doing their job but we’re not getting enough pressure so then the quarterback sits too long,” Lawal said. “Other times it’s coverage mistakes, you know one of those issues where we allowed the quarterback to give them the right reads in order to make the plays he needs in order to get the first down.”

Heading to Boulder, Colorado on Saturday, the Devils will have to compete with the impressive start by Buffaloes quarterback Steven Montez and push to hand CU their first loss of the season.