By Jeff Alba for DieHardDevil.com
Not many people other than the players and coaches inside the visiting Sun Devil locker room gave ASU a chance to beat USC on Saturday. In what was a microcosom of the 2012 football season so far for the Sun Devils, the team started strong, played well and provided hope in the first half, only to fall apart and disappoint in the second half falling to USC 38-17.
The Sun Devil defense did their part throughout the game to give ASU a chance by forcing five turnovers and giving the offense plenty of opportunities to put points on the board. Three of the turnovers were spectacular interceptions by Alden Darby, Chris Young and Carl Bradford. However, most of those opportunities were squandered as the Sun Devil offense had season lows in both yards gained and points scored. After a promising start in the first half, ASU finished the game with only 250 yards of total offense. That’s not going to get it done against most teams, let alone against USC at the Coliseum.
On the other sideline, the USC offense pulled it together after halftime and scored 24 consecutive points in the second half. These were not only points scored, but they were long drives that ate up the clock and kept the ASU defense on the field. Time of possession for the game was 36:19 for USC (61%) and 23:41 for ASU (39%). With that kind of imbalance on possession, any defense will get worn down over time when a team like the Trojans just keep coming at you. And that’s what happened to the Sun Devils in the second half. Another interesting note, although the end result was drastically different, both quarterbacks had 20 completions on 33 attempts.
For the most part, Taylor Kelly spent Saturday afternoon running for his life trying to create opportunities down the field and forced a few passes he shouldn’t have thrown. The rushing game didn’t do much to relieve any of that pressure, only gaining 71 yards on the ground. Obviously, the offensive line is involved in that equation also. With two games left in the season and a very winnable game next Saturday at home against Washington State, Coach Graham and Mike Norvell need to take a hard look at the offensive game plan and make the necessary and effective adjustments before and during the game. Sun Devil fans are restless after four consecutive losses, and at this point, two wins to finish the season and a decent bowl game would be considered a success in 2012.