The No. 24 Sun Devils are coming off of their worst offensive performance since 2008. This past Saturday, the struggles left ASU leaving Salt Lake City with two losses in the Pac-12 South.
Learning from the Utah game
Rob Likens and the offense struggled to get anything going as they only walked away with three points on the night. Utah’s defense found a way to swarm the ball quickly and leave the Devils’ in tough situations to keep drives alive.
“I think it’s good to go back and look schematically at what their (Utah’s) thoughts were coming into the game, on how to defend us. We shot ourselves in the foot so bad that it’s kind of hard to tell what was them, and what was us. They are really good, don’t get me wrong, all credit to them. They had a really good plan, looking at what their thoughts were and keeping (Jayden) in the pocket to do this and do that. It’s so hard. You watch it and if you have an improper perspective, it can distort reality.
“When you go three and out, it kills you. It kills everything. We started a couple drives first and 15. We had 20 second downs in the game and 18 of them were second and seven-plus. I don’t know if I have ever seen that before. A lot of it was self-inflicted wounds. It was good to go back and watch to get their thoughts and to learn how people think and how they try and defend you. It was really hard to watch us not execute at a high level.”
Never getting over the hump
The Sun Devil defense forced four turnovers on Utah and every time it seemed like the offense had to a chance to put themselves back in the game. That wasn’t the case on Saturday and Coach Liken knows that.
“You can get down. You can lose your passion a little bit sometimes when the defense keeps giving you a turnover and they are giving you a gift. As soon as we run out there, we are first and 15 and you are like, ‘Come on man.’ We could never get over the hump and we just kept doing that to ourself. They were the second or best rush defense in all of college football, only giving up 50 yards a game rushing. Eno had 104 yards rushing and I thought we had a good plan running the football going in. I thought we made good adjustments at halftime and came back and hit some good runs. It just seemed like every time there was a chance to get over the hump, we always went backwards and we never got over the hump, and it just killed us.”
ASU heads to the Rose Bowl to take on the UCLA Bruins. UCLA’s offense and defense has both continued to grow and improve in the eyes of the Sun Devil coaching staff. For Likens, he sees the defense as a lot like Washington State.
“Athletic. They remind me a lot of Washington State’s guys, athletic and quick...They are probably going to challenge you similar to Utah’s guys and they are going to get up in your face and press you. They will challenge you and they did that to us last year. The more you run the ball, the more they are going to start creeping that safety, and if you don’t care for it, sooner than later you are going to look up and have nine guys in the box. You have got to watch for that because the more success you have running it, the more it is going to start closing in on you.”