Oct 27, 2013 - 11:45 am - Arizona State Sun Devils
Tempe, AZ - Through seven games in 2013, ASU 5-2 (3-1) sits atop the Pac-12 South.
With the toughest part of the schedule behind them, the Devils feel confident going into their final five conference games. However, the competition is tough: Washington St., Utah, Oregon St., UCLA and Arizona.
We are at what is hopefully the perfect half-way mark of 2013. Because to play seven more games, the Devils will have to win the PAC-12 South title which would ensure a 13th game in the PAC-12 Championship. Then win or lose, game #14 will come in the form of a Bowl game.
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Looking back a year ago, one thing can't be overstated about 2012. In one year, new Head Coach Todd Graham's staff and team who "bought in" established a new identity for Sun Devil Football, finishing 8-5 including three straight Wins and ASU's victory in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
There's truth in the old cliche, "To know where you're going, you have to know from where you came."
Let's look back at key developments from the first seven games of 2012, when the Sun Devils sat at exactly the same record that they are at now, 5-2 (3-1).
Game #1, Aug. 30, 2012 - ASU vs. NAU: W, 63-6
Marion Grice led all rushers with 107 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns
The Sun Devils rushed for a combined 305 yards on 51 attempts (5.98 per attempt)
Taylor Kelly made his first career start going 15-19 for 247 yards and one touchdown.
Kelly also rushed six times for 43 yards.
Brandon Magee made two tackles and one interception, which he returned 45 yards for a touchdown. It was his first and only career pick six.
ASU allowed 237 total yards (88 rushing, 149 passing)
Game #2, Sept. 8, 2012 - ASU vs. Illinois: W, 45-14
#52 Carl Bradford pulls Illinois QB's Jersey
The Sun Devils forced three interceptions, two from linebacker Carlos Mendoza.
A shoulder injury would end Mendoza’s season against the Illini
QB Michael Eubank threw five passes completing all of them for 69 yards and tossing two touchdowns.
Eubank also ran seven times for 51 yards and another score.
TE Chris Coyle hauled in 10 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns.
ASU sacked Illinois six times for -35 yards.
ASU racked up 510 total yards of offense, (192 rush, 318 pass)
Game #3, Sept. 15, 2012 - ASU at Missouri: L, 20-24
Taylor Kelly was 14 for 23 passing for 178 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Kelly had a team-high 15 rushes for 59 yards.
The Sun Devils were held to 113 yards rushing, their second lowest total of the season.
LB Brandon Magee recorded his second interception in three games.
Magee led all Sun Devils with 12 total tackles.
ASU controlled time of possession, holding the ball for 34:51 to Missouri’s 25:09
The Sun Devils were lights-out on third down, allowing Missouri to convert only twice in 12 attempts.
Game #4, Sept. 22, 2012 - ASU vs. Utah: W, 37-7
Freshman RB, #8 D.J. Foster
Utah’s two-time 1,000 yard rusher, John White, was shut down by ASU’s defense, gaining only 18 net yards on 14 carries.
ASU’s defense allowed only 129 yards of total offense.
The defense only allowed two drives of more than 26 yards.
21 of ASU’s 37 points came in the first quarter.
QB Taylor Kelly threw 326 yards on 19 completions as well as three touchdowns and one interception.
RB D.J. Foster rushed a team-high seven times and 70 yards as well as catching one pass for 26 yards.
LB Brandon Magee had a game-high 10 tackles as well as a forced fumble that he recovered.
Game #5, Sept. 29, 2012 - ASU at Cal: W, 27-17
ASU sacked Cal QB Zach Maynard seven times, tied for the most in a game all-season
DT Will Sutton and DE Junior Onyeali combined for five of the seven sacks.
The Sun Devil offense ran a whopping 94 offensive plays for 409 yards.
Of those 94 plays, ASU ran the ball 48 times (51%) but only gained 116 yards (2.4 yards per rush) and didn’t score a rushing touchdown.
K Alex Garoutte had a rough day going 2 for 5 on field goals, one of which was blocked.
ASU fumbled the ball three times but didn’t lose any of them.
WR Kevin Ozier caught three passes for 41 yards and two touchdowns.
Game #6, Oct. 11, 2012 - ASU at Colorado: W, 51-17
The Sun Devils put on their second-best offensive performance of the year with 593 yards of total offense (261 rush, 332 pass)
Taylor Kelly passed for 308 yards on 20-28 passing and tossed five touchdowns.
RB Marion Grice did most of his damage as a receiver, catching five passes for 101 yards and three touchdowns.
RB Cameron Marshall rumbled for 98 yards on 13 carries.
RB D.J. Foster led the team with 132 all-purpose yards (61 rush, 71 receiving)
LB Brandon Magee made a game-high nine solo tackles as well as sacking Colorado QB Jordan Webb twice
DT Will Sutton also chipped in two sacks.
Game #7, Oct 18, 2012 - ASU vs. No. 2 Oregon: L, 21-43
Sun Devil #10 Keelan Johnson jumping to block an Oregon Field goal
ASU scored on its very first offensive play, a 28-yard strike from QB Taylor Kelly to WR Kevin Ozier.
ASU suffered demoralizing injuries to DT Will Sutton and DE Junior Onyeali in the first quarter.
The Sun Devil defense was gashed for a season-high 406 rushing yards.
The Sun Devil defense gave up touchdown runs of 71 and 86 yards.
QB Taylor Kelly was 10 of 18 passing for 93 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked five times.
QB Michael Eubank didn’t fare much better, going 10 for 19 passing for 123 yards, one touchdown and two picks.
S Alden Darby led ASU in tackles with 12.
The Sun Devils outscored Oregon 14-0 in the second half but it was too little, too late by then.
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There are certainly some similarities and differences between what ASU did in the first half of 2012 and what we have seen in 2013.
But the question is, will the 2013 Sun Devils push that rock further up the hill with their remaining schedule?
Sep 19, 2012 - 11:47 am - By James Romo
Youth, inexperience, and some old bad habits reared their ugly heads for the first time this season last Saturday in Colombia, Missouri. In a game filled with adversity, ASU found themselves in an improbable position to snatch a win from the jaws of a mistake-filled defeat. Both the execution and discipline that we'd seen and come to expect from the team under Coach Todd Graham were conspicuously absent in the first road test of the year. As a result, the new ASU coaching staff faces their own adversity and challenges to overcome the same mistakes starting this week against Utah.
Sun Devil Defense
First and foremost, big respect and praise goes to the defense for keeping ASU in the game after being put in some very difficult situations. Look no farther than this statistic to sum up what they faced: The three Missouri touchdown drives required them to go a total of 74 yards (two of those drives started at the ASU 18 yard line). ASU's time of possession in the first half was 9:54. Think about that for a minute...There are 30 total minutes of clock time in a half. That means that the defense was forced to be on the field for 20:06 over the first two quarters and only gave up 17 points.
There were several standouts on the defense that had excellent games and deserve mention. Will Sutton continues to be very disruptive in the opposing backfield, and had eight tackles and a sack. His quickness off the line and in pursuit laterally is just fun to watch. Brandon Magee was all over the field and had 12 total tackles, including 1.5 for loss and an interception on a beautiful deep drop at the ASU 3 yard line that stopped a Mizzou scoring drive. Carl Bradford showed the explosiveness off of the line that earned him the starting nod at Devil Backer. In the secondary, Keelan Johnson displayed great discipline in his his coverage, had some highlight reel hits, and was sure in his tackling, which stood out due to an overall poor tackling performance on defense. But make no mistake about it, the defense was not the problem on Saturday night.
Defensively, it was going to be imperative for ASU to exploit the youth and inexperience of the patchwork Tiger offensive line. The ASU front seven was disruptive all night and only allowed for a 2.7 yards per carry average. That is impressive when you look at the size of backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser and the talent in the Mizzou backfield. This stat could have been even more impressive had ASU been more sure in their tackling on first contact.Throughout the game, the defense did a great job of preventing big plays. The longest play given up was a 26 yard pass. The secondary was very assignment sound in their coverage outside of a few bad reps. On the Brandon Magee interception, a blown assignment left a Tiger receiver open in the end zone. ASU was lucky to have survived Berkstresser not seeing him. Pressure up front certainly aided the secondary in their coverage, but overall the defensive backfield was very solid on Saturday night.
Prior to the Mizzou game, I wrote a "to do" list for ASU to check off in order to stay unbeaten. Here's the link for your reference: http://dieharddevil.com/articles/the-sun-devil-to-do-list-for-victory-today/
Sun Devil Offense
The first item of business was to get Cameron Marshall the ball between the tackles in order to soften up the interior of the stout Mizzou front seven. Very early on, it was evident that the Tigers defensive front was in complete ownership of the line of scrimmage. Marshall was given the ball once on the opening drive (2nd and 4) for a gain of 1 yard. By the end of the first quarter, Marshall had 2 carries for -1 yards and ASU was staring at a 10-0 deficit. The power run game was all but abandoned at that point and Marion Grice and DJ Foster received the remaining carries from the RB position in the first half totalling 13 yards. Marshall was conspicuously absent from his kickoff return team duties leaving me to believe that there is an undisclosed injury that has been hampering him since camp. Grice and Foster are very capable backs with a nose for the end zone, but they just don't possess the size and power of Marshall.
Next, ASU needed a receiver to step up as a big play target to stretch the field. Not only did that never materialize, but there were multiple dropped passes that stalled momentum. Rashad Ross had at least three drops including one that would have been an easy touchdown. That can not happen on the road against a big time opponent if ASU expects to announce itself as an upper-tier program.Playing on the road in front of a screaming sold out 71,000 seat stadium was going to require a ton of discipline on the offensive line. The Sun Devils were called for three false start penalties, none more costly than Brice Schwab jumping early inside the ASU ten yard line. This set up a conservative play call on 3rd and long and a subsequent punt from the back of the end zone. Just to illustrate the ripple effect of a penalty like that, the punt was returned to the ASU 18 yard line and set up a Missouri touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
ASU Special Teams
One of the most glaring weaknesses for ASU last Saturday was the Special Teams unit . Mizzou returned the opening kickoff 42 yards giving them excellent field position on an opening drive that resulted in a field goal. On what would have been ASU's second offensive possession, the Sun Devil defense was put in it's first of several precarious positions when Jamal Miles fumbled a punt return giving the Tigers the ball on the ASU 18 yard line. This led to a Mizzou touchdown and an early 10-0 lead. After an impressive defensive stop (Magee's interception) the offense was unable to move the ball forcing another ASU punt. The punt coverage team was fooled on a reverse to EJ Gaines allowing him to return the ball to the ASU 18 yard line resulting in another touchdown and a 17-0 lead.
Later, Josh Hubner mishandled a snap that was a bit high, but should have been easily caught and punted. Instead, Hubner was forced to punt on the run resulting in an 11 yard punt and Mizzou taking over on the ASU 33 yard line leading to another short field for Mizzou to work with, a touchdown, and 24-7 lead. The combination of Hubner's huge leg and a coverage team loaded with experienced defensive starters should have been a huge weapon in the battle for field position. That clearly did not happen on Saturday. Perhaps the biggest mishap on special teams came when place kicking holder Ryan Woods bobbled a perfect snap on an extra point resulting in 24-20 Mizzou lead. Had ASU successfully kicked that PAT, they would have been within 3 points and not forced to score a touchdown for a win. Rather, it would have only required a field goal that would have taken the game into overtime with ASU having all the momentum after having scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and holding Missouri scoreless.
The combination of poor punt coverage, mishandled snaps, and a dynamic Mizzou return game set the Tigers up with excellent field position all night for each of their short scoring drives. What was supposed to have been a huge strength coming into the season, our return game has been less than stellar and did not provided ASU with great field position all night. The number of proven kick return weapons should have helped the ASU offense gain valuable field position against a solid defense, but the Sun Devils were forced to sustain long drives before getting into the end zone. ASU lost the turnover battle 4-1 (2 Int/2 Fum) and was still in an unlikely position to win the game. Ball security has been preached ad nauseum by this coaching staff, and yet the Sun Devils continue to turn the ball over. This is something that is going to have to be straightened out going into conference play this weekend against a very stingy Utah defense.
Coach Mike Norvell and the offense continued its unorthodox pattern of substituting quarterbacks, sometimes mid-series when Taylor Kelly had a nice rhythm going. Look no farther than ASU abandoning their power I-formation sets that had been so successful in short yardage situations in the first two weeks. The Devils were stuffed at the Mizzou one yard line late in the 4th quarter with the go-ahead touchdown hanging in the balance. Questionable play calling at the end will face certain scrutiny during film sessions this week as the team prepares for Utah. Coach Graham and the ASU coaching staff have accepted full responsibility for a lot of these issues and have promised to make necessary adjustments.
Finally, Taylor Kelly's numbers were not as impressive as they had been coming into the game. He did, however, extend some plays using his athleticism and was able to keep drives alive. I continue to be impressed with how cool he is under pressure. Consider that there had only been one pass drop over the course of the first 2 games versus (what I counted to be) 6 drops on Saturday. Along with Ross, Richard Smith and DJ Foster had drops on back-to-back plays essentially stalling a drive. I'm not sure why certain receivers are not getting opportunities at this point after having a relatively solid camp, but it's something that I'm sure this is another issue that the coaching staff will address this week.
After it was all said and done, the Sun Devils had an extremely hard time while facing their first real adversity of the year in a game that still came down to the wire with ASU in a great position to escape Colombia with a signature win. If a silver lining does exist, it's that this team refused to give up, and fought to the end showing great heart, character and resolve. Sun Devil Nation will be watching intently this weekend to see how the 2012 Sun Devils respond, including Coach Todd Graham and the ASU coaching staff.
Sep 15, 2012 - 10:09 pm - by Jeff Alba
The Sun Devils hit the road on Saturday and got their first taste of adversity in the new Todd Graham era. Although they had two chances to pull out a victory in the fourth quarter, too many penalties, turnovers and miscues cost them in the end. The game started out rough for ASU as they weren't able to get much going on offense during the first quarter and a half of play. Before you could blink, the Missouri Tigers took a quick 17-0 lead as they capitalized on some costly ASU turnovers. The Sun Devils started to find their rhythm in the second quarter and put together a solid drive capped off by a 33 yard touchdown catch and run by DJ Foster. The Sun Devils went to the locker room at halftime down 17-7.
As the second half began, Missouri took the control and momentum back as they scored another touchdown to increase their lead to 24-7. With their backs against the wall, the Sun Devils needed to make a big offensive push in the fourth quarter to make a run and have a chance at a victory. With all the early game jitters and mistakes out of the way, ASU finally found a groove on offense and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. However, an extra point was missed due to a mishandled snap, and it would prove to be costly later in the game. The Sun Devils kept up the offensive pressure and had two more chances to score late in the game, but couldn't convert at the goal line on one possession, then ended the game with an interception to seal the win for Missouri 24-20.
Comprehensive Post-Game Analysis up next.
Sep 15, 2012 - 08:00 am - By James Romo
The Sun Devils celebrated another complete domination of their second 2012 opponent in a 45-14 blowout win over Illinois last Saturday. But that celebration was short lived, as they had to immediately start game planning for their first road test of the season against a much more formidable Missouri Tiger team. Mizzou blew a lead in their first conference game as a new member of the Southeastern Conference on Saturday against #7 Georgia, and is undoubtedly feeling like they need to prove their worth as one of the "big boys" in college football. Despite the loss, they are a very talented team licking their chops looking for revenge against ASU after losing a heart-breaker in overtime Sun Devil Stadium last season.
ASU will invade Farout Field at Memorial Stadium in Colombia, MO as underdogs, but riding a wave of confidence after two very convincing home wins to start the season. However, going on the road into SEC country is a completely different animal, and "the Zou" is a notoriously difficult place to play in front of a raucous crowd. There's no need to remind Sun Devil Nation how poorly our team has fared on the road over the course of the last several years. Coach Graham has arranged to create as close to a home environment as possible. Signs, familiar locker room artifacts, and even the same locker room air fresheners will be in tow by the Sun Devil contingency in an attempt to maintain the same team wide focus and intensity as a home game in Tempe.
However, even with all the creature comforts of home, it will be challenging for ASU to contain the nation's premier dual-threat quarterback in James Franklin. Look for the Sun Devils to add some wrinkles in their defensive front seven, having to do a better job this week of maintaining outside contain on Franklin. He proved in last season's game in Tempe (314 yards passing and 2 TD's, 84 rushing and 1 TD) that he is very capable of taking a game over on his own. The only dents in the ASU defensive armor to this point in the season has been their propensity for giving up big chunks of yardage only after allowing the opposing QB or RB to break outside containment. Saturday, the defensive coaches will have their hands full attempting to find the delicate balance of pressuring Franklin and keeping him from breaking long runs to the outside. Once forced outside, he has the ability to tuck it and ramble for big yardage, or pull up and hit one of several premier wide receiver targets. With hulking nose tackle Mike Pennell back this week after suspension, I can foresee ASU going big on the defensive line to stuff inside runs, while possibly supplementing that with excessive speed on the edges to match the Tiger backfield, and assigning an athletic defenseman to spy (follow wherever he goes) Franklin. The key will be forcing the Mizzou ball carriers back inside toward the teeth of the Sun Devil defense.
ASU must figure out a way to contain Missouri QB James Franklin to have a chance at victory. (Photo by Peter Vander Stoep for DieHardDevil.com)
The Mizzou spread-option offense is a big play waiting to happen. They are skilled and fast at the receiver position including the Rivals national overall top 2012 recruit Dorial Green-Beckham. Green-Beckham is an imposing 6' 6" 220-pound player with great speed who is going to provide Franklin with a mismatch opportunity all over the field. Other very capable receiver targets include Marcus Lucas (6 rec, 88 yds, 1 TD vs GA) and L'Damian Washington (2 rec, 81 yds, 1 TD vs GA) who are both very shifty in the open field and will force the ASU defense to be even more assignment sound and sure in their tackling.
Complimenting Franklin in the rushing attack are a couple of game breaking running backs in Kendial Lawrence and Marcus Murphy. Lawrence is averaging nine yards per carry and will remind Sun Devil Nation of our own DJ Foster with similar size, speed, and elusiveness in the open field. The only deficiency that may hinder the Tiger offensive attack is the loss of starting left tackle Elvis Fisher. Once Fisher was taken out of the contest with Georgia, the Missouri coaching staff was forced to juggle their O-line personnel to fill in, resulting in lost focus and leadership as they began to accrue penalties, missed blocking assignments, and suffered a diminished rushing game. Fisher is expected to miss several weeks with a knee injury opening the same door for ASU that Georgia was able to run through with their own relentless pass rush. ASU will get standout linebacker and team leader Brandon Magee back this week after sitting out the Illinois game with a concussion. However, Magee's backup, freshman Carlos Mendoza was lost for the season just before halftime last week with a shoulder separation injury. Fortunately for ASU, the defensive coaching staff has some capable personnel that can play multiple positions and create depth where they are thin. It was announced this week that Deantre Lewis, who made his mark as an electric RB as a freshman two years ago, will be moved to the defense where his athleticism should help bolster the depth chart.
(Photo by Peter Vander Stoep for DieHardDevil.com)
Defensively, Missouri is holding their opposition to less than three yards per carry. That doesn't bode well for an ASU attack that has used it's depth at running back to set up a surprisingly productive passing game. If ASU can't get production in the running game, look for tight end Chris Coyle to have another monster game. Coach Graham has stated that he is still waiting for one of the speedsters in the ASU receiving core to have a breakout game and become a "go to" guy down field. In last week's win against Illinois, the receivers had a combined 7 catches and didn't seem to be the primary targets for most of the game. The Tigers run a more traditional 4-3 defense and are big and nasty on their interior D-line. A pair of 300-pounders in Matt Hoch and Sheldon Ricardson who will be difficult to move around and create the running lanes that ASU has been providing Cameron Marshall, DJ Foster, and Marion Grice. The daunting task will fall on a much improved ASU offensive line to win the battle in the trenches for a third consecutive week. Also, crowd noise will create a headache for the Sun Devil no-huddle, fast-paced offense to possibly not be able to play the desired tempo they've been accustomed to in Tempe.
The Tiger linebacking core is led by middle linebacker Will Ebner, a big athletic force in the middle who is flanked on the strong side by Andrew Wilson who is the team's leading tackler. The linebackers have been excellent in stopping the run, but will have their hands full in covering the short flat and containing ASU's quick strike passing game and intermediate crossing routes. Again this week, look for the Devils to loosen up the edges with their short passing game. As will be the case in most weeks this season, ASU will have a speed advantage that should be able to exploit a bigger and stronger Missouri defensive front. If the Devils can continue to get the ball to play-makers in open spaces, this should open up big play potential down field as long as one of ASU's unproven receivers can step up this week against standout Tiger corners EJ Gaines and Kip Edwards. The Devils will look to put pressure on the opposing safeties with clear-out routs to the tight end and slot receivers who were routinely wide open against Illinois.
The Sun Devils rush the field to celebrate their overtime victory over Missouri last year. (Photo by Peter Vander Stoep for DieHardDevil.com)
It may be becoming cliche to say that ASU has to play a near-perfect game in order have a chance in this one. However, playing on a national stage in prime time against a favored opponent will require the Sun Devils to win the turnover battle, continue to limit penalties, and maintain discipline in all phases of the game. This is a defining game that will go a long way in validating Coach Graham's desire to be a national power sooner rather than later. It's been said that there is nothing more dangerous than a wounded animal. The Tigers fit that bill this weekend, and the Sun Devils will be locked in a very physical battle for a full sixty minutes on Saturday.
Sep 12, 2011 - 07:15 pm - By Juan Roque for DieHardDevil.com
In American sport, there are many cliches that we use when talking about an event as monumental as winning a close football game in overtime. After Arizona State’s thrilling victory on September 9, 2011 against the Missouri Tigers, phrases like “It was meant to be”, “It was fate” and “It was written in the stars” come to mind. ASU, in the first ever “Black Out”, invested not only time and effort…but emotion into this contest. It was without question the biggest game in many years and it was the first true test for a team that is looking to contend for the Pac-12 Title. After the struggles of other conference schools in week one and a blowout loss by UofA to Oklahoma State on Thursday night, all eyes were now on the black clad Sun Devils. In almost storybook fashion and in front of a nationally televised ESPN home crowd, they found a way to win a game they would have surely lost the year before. Once the Tigers’ fate was sealed and ASU emerged victorious in front of 70,000 fans, those cliche phrases were recited over and over as content fans exited Sun Devil Stadium.
Given how the game unfolded at the end, the phrase that most applies to ASU’s victory is “Lightning never strikes twice in the same place.” The old axiom about celestial electricity was proven incorrect Friday night. With the southern desert night sky illuminated by a monsoon lightning storm and a light rain falling onto the field, the Sun Devils disproved that statement. How? In their case, lightning struck not once or twice, but three times. When Missouri fought back from a 30-16 deficit late in the game, ASU was on its heels and reeling from its inability to keep the Tigers in their cage. Missouri, a team that struggled at home only a week earlier on offense, was moving the ball effectively against the Sun Devil defense. They clawed their way from a 14 point deficit and tied the game with 2:50 left in the 4th Quarter when James Franklin completed a 3 yard touchdown pass to Michael Egnew. With the score locked at 30-30, ASU got the ball and was not able to convert a first down forcing another punt. Missouri, with the momentum in its corner, had a chance defeat the Devils in their packed house.
First Lightning Strike
Missouri, after getting the ball back, found a way to move the ball downfield one last time. They lined up for a potential game winning 48 yard field goal as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The masses at Sun Devil Stadium held their collective breath as All-American Missouri kicker Grant Ressel, who had already nailed a 47 yard kick earlier in the game, set up. His critical kick had the distance for 3 points but missed going wide left. Still tied at 30, the clock expired and the game was sent to overtime.
Second Lightning Strike
Brock Osweiler marches the Sun Devils into the end zone in the first overtime possession with two great passes; one to Aaron Pflugrad for a first down and then one to Jamal Miles for an 11 yard touchdown. Alex Garoutte’s kick was good, and ASU took the lead 37-30.
Third Lightning Strike
ASU’s defense struggled to stop the Tigers’ offense since halftime. After an emotional and inspirational sideline huddle where the whole team rallied each other, the Sun Devil Defense held Missouri for four straight plays to seal the win. It was a perfect “4 and out.”
Some sayings are meant to be disproved, and we all discovered that lighting can strike in the same place more than twice.
GRADING THE GAME
Brock Osweiler proved why he was so well thought of when he came to ASU three years ago. He played with poise, confidence and efficiency. You cannot ask your starting quarterback to have a better game. Osweiler threw 24 of 32 for 353 yards and 3 touchdowns but the best statistic of all… NO INTERCEPTIONS. He was also effective when he ran the ball gaining 34 net yards on six attempts, converting one for a touchdown. Number 17 is a warrior and leader.
Cameron Marshall grinded and grinded in the first half not gaining a lot of yards but physically wearing down the bigger Missouri defensive linemen. In the second half Marshall was finally able to break a couple of big runs but only netted 65 yards on 22 carries for a below average 2.8 yards per carry. Jamal Miles chipped in with 13 yards on two carries and threw a touchdown pass to Aaron Pflugrad on a perfectly executed trick play. Miles was brilliant out of the backfield in the passing game catching 6 passes for 50 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Kyle Middlebrooks only carried once for a two yard loss. The ground game needs to pick up big time if the team is to compete for a championship.
Nine different Sun Devils caught a pass in this game. Aaron Pflugrad showed his play making ability in big games by being the top producer on the field. He was everywhere and caught everything including the thrilling tailback pass in the southwest endzone that will be remembered for years to come. Pflugrad caught 8 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Gerrel Robinson caught two huge passes for 66 yards and Mike Willie snagged two passes for 22 yards. George Bell caught two passes for 12 yards. Good day at the office for this group.
The group had a good outing despite not having Aderious Simmons in the lineup. Pass blocking was much better than in years past even though one sack was given up on a blitz. Dan Knapp did a great job keeping Brad Madison, the Tigers’ best pass rusher, in check. Madison had two tackles and was never near Osweiler. The interior of the line held against the huge Missouri tackles holding them to only seven tackles, six less than the week before. No defensive lineman was ever in a position to sack Osweiler because this unit sustained their blocks. Once they get their run blocking in synch this unit will be outstanding.
Much improved production from week one. Bo Moos was around the football and recorded only two tackles but he set up other players with his nonstop motor. Corey Adams came off the bench and had a productive game netting three tackles, one for a loss of two yards. He was flagged for roughing the passer but the call was borderline at best. Junior Onyeali had three tackles and came close to getting to James Franklin but was unable to bring him down for a sack. Jammar Jarrett also harassed Franklin and chipped in with two tackles. Toa Tuitea came off the bench and achieved the only sack of the evening on Franklin by the defensive line. This was not a dominant showing or a bad outing either for this talented group. They need to find a way to get more sacks, and they need to do a better job stopping the run. Missouri netted 182 yards on the ground; 82 by James Franklin and 94 by Henry Josey who was not even on the two deep before the season began. This needs to be corrected quickly.
Vontaze Burfict continues to march towards an All American season by recording his fourth sack of the year and five tackles. He was penalized once for holding but had no personal fouls. Teams are doing their best to avoid him yet he still finds ways to constantly get around the football. Oliver Aaron was much improved in this game and contributed four stops. The most surprising player was captain, Colin Parker. The fifth year senior led the Sun Devils in tackles with 11. Shelly Lyons was again quiet and recorded two stops. While the unit as a whole produced much better than week one, they share in the accountability of the Tigers’ 182 rushing yards.
The injury depleted unit had the unenviable task of stopping T.J. Moe and Michael Egnew, Missouri’s top two offensive players. They found a way to keep both players from running wild, but the Tigers succeeded at spreading the ball around and eight different receivers caught the ball. James Franklin, who threw for 127 yards the week before, torched the Sun Devils for 319 yards. Man coverage is an issue and there are huge holes that the opposition has exposed in the Sun Devil zone coverage. Clint Floyd and Eddie Elder played hard from their safety positions; they combined for nine tackles and Edler broke up a pass. Corners Deveron Carr and Osahon Irabor just need to develop confidence. Disappointingly, the unit was not able to intercept a pass for the second week in a row.
The return game is strong with Kyle Middlebrooks and Rashad Ross. They combined for 152 return yards that put the offense in great field position. Alex Garroute nailed a 47 yard field goal after missing from 42 but also missed an extra point. He’ll get better but the missed extra points cannot happen. Josh Hubner was impressive in his punting duties averaging 36 yards per punt, and he pinned the Tigers inside their 20 three times. Kickoff coverage is still an issue.
Given some notably injured talent on the roster, the Sun Devils showed their depth and prevailed against a solid Missouri program. This has been one of Arizona State’s goals… to take the blood, sweat and lessons learned from the last-minute defeats to big programs in 2010 and finish off such opponents in 2011. They’ve played just two games, and this was only Brock’s third start. #17 has shown strong qualities of leadership, confidence and performance against a ranked opponent which a team needs to succeed. From a depth standpoint, back-up players are getting valuable experience and learning to think and play like starters. This team has gained a ton of confidence, and they proved their ability to perform in the clutch and close out a big game. While key improvements are necessary, these Devils are capable of being very dangerous and difficult to beat.
Game #3 at Illinois is at 4:00 PST this Saturday, at Memorial Stadium in Champagne, Illinois. Where will you be?
Sep 09, 2011 - 03:09 pm - By Pat Marrujo for DieHardDevil.com
The Sun Devils get to test their mettle early on against one of the nation’s elite programs. Missouri comes into 2011 riding a program-record six straight bowl seasons. They are tied for 6th in the nation with 40 wins in the last four seasons. Only one program has had more players selected in the 1st round of the NFL Draft in the last three seasons than the Tigers. Mizzou has earned at least a share of the Big-12 North Championship in three of the last four seasons. This year they are ranked 21st in both the AP and USA Today pre-season polls. But…
Six seasons ago, the Tigers found themselves where ASU is today. Entering the 2005 season Gary Pinkel was beginning his 5th season as Mizzou head coach. He had gone 22-25 in his first four seasons with only one bowl appearance during his tenure. The Tigers won seven ball games that year including the Independence Bowl and began their ascension into the ranks of the nation’s best. As Dennis Erickson begins his 5th season with the Devils sporting a 25-24 record and having reached just one bowl game, he can look to Missouri as an example of where ASU is headed.
Missouri fields an experienced team but the pieces missing from 2010 are major ones. The Tigers are returning nine starters on offense and eight on defense in 2011. Their returning players have started a combined 329 games in their careers. Eight different players made pre-season watch lists. However, Mizzou is missing a top-10 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft from each side of the ball. Defensive end Aldon Smith, who would be a junior, went 7th overall to the San Francisco 49ers. Smith registered 16.5 sacks and more than 100 tackles in his two years as a Tiger. Even more noticeably absent is quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert left Mizzou following his junior season and was picked 10th by the Jacksonville Jaguars after passing for more than 3000 yards and posting passer ratings of 140.5 and 127 the previous two years.
After a more than 20 year hiatus, the Tigers and Devils renew the series. The two teams first met in Tempe in 1972 as part of the second ever Fiesta Bowl. ASU earned its second consecutive Fiesta Bowl win, beating Mizzou 49-35. After dropping two straight against Missouri, the Sun Devils got their only other series victory in 1989, taking the first half of a home/home 19-3 in Tempe. The following season the Tigers got their revenge, winning 30-9 in a battle of teams that would each finish the season 4-7. The series has sat dormant since 1990, with Missouri holding a 3-2 advantage.
Game #2 v. Missouri, September 9, 2011, 7:30 p.m. - Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Sep 09, 2011 - 01:27 pm -
September 7, 2011
By Juan Roque
This Friday at 7:30 PM, ARIZONA STATE will storm onto Frank Kush Field inside Sun Devil Stadium in their new “All Black” uniforms in a nationally televised game on ESPN. There has been a lot of focus and hype surrounding this game during the off season, and the debut of this new sinister attire. The anticipation has been huge this week on campus and throughout Sun Devil Nation. Fans will be wearing black and even though the game time temperature on the field will be over 100 degrees, the mood in Sun Devil Stadium is sure to be electric and festive.
It has been a long time since ARIZONA STATE has had this significant of a match up so early in the season. The Missouri Tigers, or Mizzou, come into Tempe still ranked #21 in the AP Poll and coming off of a 17-6 home Win against a surly and tenacious Miami of Ohio team. The Tigers were sloppy at times in that game, so they will be looking to make a statement this week on the road that they are worthy of their ranking and national respect. ASU took care of business last week in their first home game of the season against an overmatched UC Davis team 48-14 at home. Both teams are in the hunt to compete for their division titles and possibly the conference title. All the ingredients are there for an instant classic college football game.
Unfortunately for both teams, the injury bug bit hard in week one. The Tigers and Sun Devils came away with significant injuries in key positions. Mizzou lost linebacker Joe Ebner to a sprained ankle and defensive end Jacquies Smith to a dislocated elbow. Both players were starters on a defense that was expected to carry the team while they break in a new quarterback. ASU lost tackle Aderious Simmons and defensive back Ezekiel Bishop. Bishop will be lost for the year with a torn ACL. He joins other ailing Sun Devils on defense including playmakers, Devon Spann, Omar Bolden and Brandon Magee. This was another blow to an already decimated Sun Devil secondary. Back-up defensive players must prove themselves and work together to succeed moving forward. Simmons, who sprained an ankle and was helped off the field against the Aggies, is week to week and could possibly see some back up time on Friday.
Meet Mizzou’s Offense
The Tigers have big play makers on offense. They run a version of the spread attack very similar to ASU’s Noel Mazzone. They like the mid range passing patterns, can attack over the middle or on the edges deep with their speed players. They employ multiple receiver sets just like ASU. In the ground attack, they like to pull linemen and have them lead block for Mizzou tailbacks because they do not use a fullback in their offense. The Mizzou offensive line is huge and they boast a potential All-American player on the right side with senior tackle Dan Hoch who is 6’7” and weighs 320 pounds.
The primary challenge for the Tigers have is replacing a star quarterback. Blaine Gabbert was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round of this year’s draft. In comes sophomore James Franklin. Although he is not experienced he is a very athletic young man and can run like a tailback. Against Miami of Ohio the shifty first year starter ran for 76 yards and a touchdown. His passing game is where he needs to improve as he threw for a paltry 123 yards last week. He was erratic at times, hurried his throws and was too quick to run the ball rather than finish his reads. One thing is for certain- Franklin can break for huge runs if he gets space, and has decent vision in seeing those gaps open up during a play.
Although they did not produce much in game one according to their past statistics, the two biggest playmakers the Tigers have on offense are wide receiver T.J. Moe and returning Consensus All-American and 2010 Team MVP, Michael Egnew. Moe is a receiver that is similar to ASU’s Aaron Pflugrad. He is a very disciplined rout runner and finds a way to get separation from his defender to snag passes that are thrown his way. Last year he was Gabbert’s favorite target in amassing 1092 receiving yards. Egnew is listed as a tight end but is most dangerous out of the slot and is projected to be a first round draft pick in 2012. He is big, has soft hands and uses his height well against smaller defensive backs. Once he catches the ball he is strong enough to thwart would-be tacklers and break for a big gain or a score.
How ASU's Defense Matches Up
The one issue that needs to be addressed is how ASU, with limited numbers in the defensive secondary, will defend Mizzou’s multiple receiver sets. The Tigers have several fast players besides Moe and Egnew and will need to be able to account for them at all times. Look for ASU to use multiple zone coverage schemes in this game to make up for lack of depth. One thing the defensive backs will need to do this week is play disciplined football in reading their keys. They absolutely have to play the Tigers honest to avoid giving up the big play.
The defensive line this week is where the game will be most critical. ASU needs to pressure James Franklin on every snap and find ways to make him one dimensional. The Sun Devil’s interior of Will Sutton and Bo Moos will have to push the pocket and get James Franklin to move laterally and abort his reads. This will allow ASU ends Junior Onyeali and Jamar Jarrett to get to Franklin from the edges and either flush him out of the pocket or drop him for sacks. Mo Latu will also be making his Sun Devil debut and adding solid size to the defensive front. The huge Mizzou offensive line may have trouble with ASU’s faster and more athletic ends, but do not expect them to back off. This will be a four quarter game in the trenches.
The linebacker corps will be challenged as well, especially Shelly Lyons and Oliver Aaron on the edges. They will have to do a great job of knowing when to cover, when to attack and when to contain. Vontaze Burfict will no doubt be assigned to attack James Franklin as he likes to run with the ball. The Tigers will not have their quarterback long though if Burfict does what he does best which is knock opposing players senseless with his bone crushing hits. Burfict and the defensive line will be one of the keys to an ASU Win. They must find a way to attack Franklin and make him a non-factor in this game. They will do this by making him rely on his arm.
Meet Mizzou’s Defense
The Tigers suffered two huge injuries last week against Miami of Ohio. Starting linebacker Will Ebner and defensive end Jacquies Smith will not play Friday, but there are other players that can step up for the Tigers. Defensive back, Kip Epner returns at the right time for the Tigers’ defense.
On the defensive line the player to watch is defensive end Brad Madison. He is a very active player who recorded two sacks and two tackles for loss last week. The interior of their front line is huge. Both tackles are in the 300 pound range and combined for 13 tackles last week. The Tigers will be starting a sophomore in place of the injured Smith.
The linebacker unit is experienced and productive. Even with the loss of Exner, the Tiger linebackers picked up the slack. Andrew Wilson, who replaced Ebner, showed his ability to make plays by netting ten tackles. Zaviar Gooden and Luke Lambert were also effective by combining for nine tackles last week.
In the secondary Kip Edwards returns from injury and will start at cornerback opposite E.J. Gaines, the Tigers’ best secondary player. Gaines can cover, support the run and attack the ball. He had a huge interception in the game last week that stopped a potential Redhawk scoring drive. Gaines is not tall but makes up for his lack of height by playing smart and not getting out of position. Safety Kenji Jackson is a great support player who can cover the pass and step up and make tackles against the run.
How ASU's Offense Matches Up
This is going to be a game that is won and lost in the trenches. The Tigers have two huge interior players that will test Andrew Sampson, Mike Marcisz and Garth Gerhart. On the edges ASU tackles Dan Knapp and Evan Finkenberg will need to account for Brad Madison who is a relentless pass rusher. To win, ARIZONA STATE’s offensive line will need to play near flawless football in protecting Brock Osweiller. They need to find ways to gash them in the running game and wear them out in the house of heat.
Brock Osweiler will need to make sound decisions against the ball hawking Tigers and deliver the football to where only his receivers can catch it. Expect the Tigers to use trickery by disguising their coverage and using the blitz to get pressure. If Brock plays smart and avoids giving the Tigers any cheap opportunities through turnovers, the Sun Devil offence can press the tempo and keep Missouri players on their heels.
Cameron Marshall and Kyle Middlebrooks must have a great night running the ball in order to keep the Tigers “in the box” and respect ASU’s ground game. By delivering a strong running attack Friday night, Missouri will struggle to cover the potent ASU receiving corps. Gerrell Robinson, Mike Willie, George Bell and Aaron Pflugrad can do some real damage and put many points on the board.
This is a huge game with all the ingredients of an instant classic. ARIZONA STATE and Missouri boast exceptional talent in many areas of the field, and both teams can move the ball and score points. The team that secures the football and forces the other into mistakes will earn the Win. ASU is prepared to be that team. Be in Black with Sun Devil Nation & with your Team tonight.
Are You? Prove it.
Sep 09, 2011 - 11:32 am - by Pat Marrujo for DieHardDevil.com
In their season opener, Missouri limped to a disappointing 17-6 victory over Miami (OH). Their performance raised eyebrows as the SUN DEVILS prepare for Friday’s highly anticipated “BLACKOUT” game at Sun Devil Stadium.
Here are 8 things we know from Missouri’s last game.
8. Missouri Struggles on 3rd Down
In 2010, Missouri was fairly average on third down. They converted 38 percent of their tries, good enough for 74th nationally.
Against Miami (OH), the Tigers only managed to convert 3/13 third down attempts.
This could prove costly for Missouri because the Sun Devil defense has ranked in the top ten nationally on third downs in each of the past two seasons.
This week, the Tigers could find more trouble putting long drives together against a more formidable defense. If Missouri wants to move the ball against Vontaze Burfict and company, they will need to make big plays.
7. Penalties Could be an Issue
The signs show this could be an issue for Missouri. Repeat, for Missouri.
Your Sun Devils committed just 4 penalties for 40 yards last week, a drastically reduced mark from last season’s average. In their opener against Miami (OH), Missouri committed 9 penalties for 81 yards.
6. Starters, Will Ebner and Jacquies Smith, Will be Out
While the Sun Devils have had a news-worthy run of injuries, the Tigers are starting 2011 with their own issues.
Left Tackle Elvis Fisher, Center Travis Ruth, receiver Jerrell Jackson, tight end Eric Waters and receiver Gahn McGaffie are all expected to be out for the second game in the a row on Friday. However, there are two more important names that have been added to that list since Missouri’s opener.
Starting middle linebacker, Will Ebner, and starting defensive end, Jacquies Smith will not step on KUSH FIELD Friday night.
This is a huge blow to the Missouri defense and will result in some shuffling around in the Tiger’s front seven.
5. Missouri Fans are Losing Confidence
Weeks ago, Tiger fans started to find their way onto ASU message boards. Missouri trash talk and score predictions were rampant across these sites.
This week however, Tiger fans have faded and hushed in Sun Devil forums. On Missouri websites, expectations have changed. Numerous fans who looked forward to beating a PAC12 contender in ASU, now believe their trip to Tempe could be a problem.
4. Missouri has a Great Defense
Last season, the Tigers only gave up 16.1 points per game, good enough for 6th in the nation.
Against Miami (OH), the Missouri defense did exactly what they were supposed to do. They dominated the entire game and only gave up a single touchdown and 270 total yards.
Missouri’s D bears a lot of responsibility against Brock & Sun Devil scorers, if their offense doesn’t show large improvement from last week.
3. QB, James Franklin, is No Blaine Gabbert
In 2009 the Sun Devils said goodbye to a very talented Quarterback in Rudy Carpenter. Then in came Danny Sullivan to fill his shoes. From the start Sullivan was in a tough spot and proved to be a step down in talent.
Missouri is experiencing a similar situation this season. Blaine Gabbert left as one of the best quarterbacks in school history, and now sophomore, James Franklin, has come in to lead the offense.
Despite passing for 129 yards and a touchdown on 17/26 throwing in their opener, Tigers fans have been tentative in embracing Franklin.
He has a questionable arm and tends to float balls on passes to the sidelines. If he continues that against the fast Arizona State defense, interceptions will come.
Franklin’s best asset is his ability to make plays with his feet. In the opener he ran for 72 yards on 14 carries.
However, ASU’s defense is likely too fast to let a mobile quarterback beat them. If Franklin decides to run, he could have a hard introduction to Sun Devils #7 and #2. Burfict and Elder hope the Missouri QB makes that move.
2. These are Not the 2010 Missouri Tigers
The Tigers have an experienced team in 2011, and lost arguably their two most talented players to the NFL last offseason: Blaine Gabbert and Aldon Smith. Those losses make this a very different team.
In 2010, the Tigers beat Miami (OH) by the score of 51-13. Last week, things went differently.
Missouri had only a 10-6 lead until the fourth quarter. They need some of that 2010 magic to have a better start against the Sun Devils this Friday.
1. The Sun Devils Will Beat Missouri
The single most important thing we have learned about the Tigers in week #1 is that the Sun Devils can and will beat Missouri.
Be there Friday and be in Black.