Head coach Herm Edwards and the Arizona State Sun Devils wanted to be in a fourth quarter game in Seattle. They got their wish, but couldn’t find the the moment to win the game.
“Going into this game, we wanted to get it into the fourth quarter and we got it into the fourth quarter,” Edwards said. “But then we kind of self-destructed. We got some fouls. We got some calls that caused us harm. Turned the ball over. All those things added up to us — you can’t do that against a good football like this on the road.
“We talked about it all week, getting it to the fourth quarter. We wanted to get it into the fourth quarter, if we got it into the fourth quarter we could make a play or two to win it. We always feel like if we get into the fourth quarter and you get on the road the more pressure is on the home team than it is the visiting team. So, we got it there but we just couldn’t finish it off.”
The 10th ranked Washington Huskies (3-1, Pac-12 2-0) were the better team against Arizona State (2-2, 0-1) on Saturday. Senior quarterback Jake Browning threw for three touchdowns leading the way to the Huskies’ 27-20 victory.
Sophomore running back Trelon Smith’s fumble in the third quarter can be pointed to as one opportunity that the Sun Devils missed on. On their second drive on the second half, the Sun Devils were gaining momentum. After converting on third-and-3, Smith caught a five-yard pass at Washington’s 38-yard line, but he lost the ball for the second time. ASU got back his first fumble, this one went to the Huskies.
Edwards was asked about if the fumble was a missed opportunity.
“Well, one, yeah and there was one before that when they scored the last touchdown, we had them in a 3rd-and-9 and the quarterback scrambled out to our left, we had him dead to right and we missed the tackle,” he said. “I mean, you make them punt there, you kill that drive they don’t score. So, some things happened that we gotta do a better job of.
“Effort was there, we had good effort, but effort, unless you win, it’s effort but another loss, we’ve lost two in a row now. We’ve played against some pretty good defenses, the last three weeks have been defensive-oriented teams that can play defense. We’ve gotta improve, too many big passes against these guys, we let them out, we can’t let them out. You can’t let good teams out, you just can’t do it. We’re not good enough to do that and that occurred a couple times.”
Some teams may take a one-score loss on the road to a top tier team as a ‘moral victory.’ To the Sun Devil players continued the theme that there was plenty of plays left on the field that could’ve changed the game in their mind.
“We did some good things. I thought I missed a couple of throws. Early on that first or second drive that inside fade I threw to (wide receiver) Kyle (Williams). if I threw it back shoulder, just gave him a chance,” senior quarterback Manny Wilkins said. “The one to (wide receiver) Frank (Darby), that post-curl their (Washington) guys just made really good plays. Those guys play really sound defensive football.”
Wilkins finished the night 17-for-27 for 104 yards. On paper, those stats don’t look appealing. However, the Sun Devils’ game plan was to run the football. After only running for 44 yards against Michigan State and 36 against San Diego State, Arizona State got back to the ground game.
On Saturday, led by sophomore running back Eno Benjamin, the Sun Devils rushed for 164 yards, averaging 4.1 yards per carry. After sophomore cornerback Chase Lucas picked off the first play from scrimmage on a trick play attempt from Washington, the focus went straight to the run game.
Starting from UW’s 20-yard line, Benjamin got six straight carries on the first drive, capping if off with a one-yard touchdown run. What changed? A few things, one being that junior Zach Robertson started at left tackle and graduate transfer Casey Tucker moved over to left guard.
“Just getting my confidence back. As an offense, the offensive line moved some players around tonight. I think we had a great week of practice,” Benjamin said. “Putting in a new gap scheme. We just made it work.”
Benjamin finished the night with 104 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Edwards also chimed in on the run game.
“I just think going forward, after that San Diego State game, I felt like we have to change something here. We have to be able to run the ball better,” he said. “We added a power and a counter to our running attack and for three days of work, I thought those guys did a nice job, the offensive line and coach Dave Christensen, you have to give him some credit.”
The Sun Devils also struggled to create pressure on Browning and he took full advantage of it. Late in the first quarter he was able to find sophomore wide receiver Ty Jones on a seem route for a 19-yard touchdown. The pass was perfectly placed over sophomore safety Frederick Langston to put the Huskies up 14-10, a lead they’d never relinquish.
That wasn’t the best play by Browning. In the fourth quarter on third-and-4, the senior quarterback was able to keep the play alive before finding redshirt freshman tight end Cade Otton in the back corner of the end zone. That put Washington up 27-13 with 10:59 left in that game and the pressure was on the Sun Devils to score twice.
Wilkins did find the end zone with 2:54 left on a one-yard scamper, but the Sun Devils never got the ball back.
Edwards quote of ‘leave it all on the grass,” from a few weeks ago doesn’t reflect the same in Seattle. A handful of plays, yards and points were left in Husky Stadium. And hopefully the mistakes will be corrected when the Sun Devils return home next week to face the Oregon State Beavers (1-3, 0-1).