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ASU Football: Disastrous second half dooms ASU as Devils fall to Oklahoma State

ASU failed to score in the second half

Oklahoma State v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona State defense did all they could to keep the game competitive against Oklahoma State, but a culmination of anemic offense and poor field position doomed the Sun Devils as they drop their first game of the season to the Cowboys, 27-15.

Arizona State put together a complete first half with creative play calling and execution matched with a sturdy defense that completely shut down the Cowboys run game, but similar to Week 1 versus Southern Utah, the defense was left to dry as the offense disappeared in the second half.

However, this week there was no haboob nor weather delay to blame.

Coach Kenny Dillingham said he liked what he saw on film and decided to run the wildcat formation with tight end Jalin Conyers and running back Cam Skattebo, and it was successful during the first half.

“It worked really well early,” he said. “We were in 14 personnel and they showed a match for 14 personnel and they did that so we took advantage. They kept their 3-3-5 on the field versus the 14 personnel on fourth-and-1, they were stopping the run. That’s something we can’t have happen. We have to be more creative offensively as a staff.”

ASU drew first blood with a 13-yard score out of the wildcat formation with Skattebo midway through the opening quarter. Then a busted coverage from the Cowboy’s secondary allowed Rashada to connect with Elijhah Badger for a 65-yard bomb.

ASU was shut out in the second half.

Dillingham walked the fine line between playing aggressive and playing for the game situation, and he bases his decisions on the analytics.

“Fourth-and-1 is pretty much a go,’re going to convert over 75 percent,” he said. Last week versus Southern Utah, he rolled the dice on fourth-and-8 and it payed off with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Jaden Rashada. This week, fortune did not favor the home team.

Arizona State was just 1-for-5 on fourth down against Oklahoma State, two resulted in points for the Cowboys. As the Devils trailed 20-15, they faced a fourth-and-2 from their own 33-yard line with six minutes remaining, Rashada threw an incomplete pass to Skattebo and ASU turned the ball over instead of punting.

The Cowboys extended their lead to 12 just six plays later.

ASU had a chance to swing momentum and recapture the lead when Rashada found Xavior Guillory open midway through the fourth quarter, but the ball bounced in and out of his hands. Guillory, had he reeled it in, would have scored.

Dillingham said the difference in the game was the third and fourth down conversions. But having a healthy offensive line certainly helps. Right tackle Emmit Bohle was carted off on the Devils opening drive, and now ASU is down five of its top eight lineman.

Much of the blame can be placed on Rashada, who was 16-of-19 for 167 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but that would be irresponsible. The crippled offensive line can’t generate push on third and fourth downs nor provide ample protection to establish the run or pass game.

Dillingham says no one cares about the circumstance, the team will roll with whoever is healthy going forward.

While a loss is a loss, it was a test against a power five program and Arizona State, behind the youngest coach in college football, proved they could hang around. The Sun Devils showed improvements from Week 1 as the defensive line created pressure and produced three sacks, two of which came from B.J. Green. Arizona State drew only four penalties for 30 yards, a vast difference (nine penalties for 100 yards) from a week ago.

Arizona State (1-1) will go back to the drawing board to prepare as Fresno State (2-0) comes to Tempe.