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.
* * *
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?
Nov 07, 2012 - 08:43 pm - By James Romo for DieHardDevil.com
In the first 30 minutes of the game last Saturday in Corvallis, we witnessed the street fight we originally predicted before the game. But in the end, it proved to be a fight in which the Sun Devils just weren't adequately armed. Look no further than the return of Will Sutton to see just how much of an impact player he is, and also to also illustrate just how talent-depleted this ASU team is at several positions.
The Sun Devils started the fight when Sutton threw the first haymaker on the OSU opening possession, a brutally clean hit on Beaver QB Cody Vaz, causing a fumble at the Beaver one yard line with Junior Onyeali recovering for an ASU touchdown. The Sun Devil Defense blitzed early and often, and hit Vaz relentlessly on OSU's opening drives. The Beavers were able to loosen the ASU defense up on their second possession by unleashing speedy Markus Wheaton on an end-around that he took for 35 yards. Despite ASU defenders getting a hand on a 41 yard FG attempt, the kick found its way through the uprights for a 7-3 ASU lead. Offensively, Cam Marshall was finding success on the ground with ASU's first offensive possessions. This helped keep linebackers honest and opening up some space for Taylor Kelly to hit Jamal Miles and Chris Coyle for short routes during a methodical drive resulting in a 1 yard Cam Marshall TD run and a 14-3 lead. ASU seemed in control.
The Beaver's ensuing possession showed just one of the many differences between a good team, and a VERY good team. Wheaton beat Osahan Irabor on a deep route when he slipped, and safety Keelan Johnson took a poor angle over the top, allowing Wheaton to walk into the endzone for a 50 yard score. Having a receiving core that is capable of big vertical plays like that opens up the entire playbook for an offensive coordinator, and creates a coverage nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators. Conversely, the lack of production from the ASU speedsters on the outside all season has slowly, but surely, allowed teams to single-cover those guys with corners and leave safeties alone in the middle to roam and come up and take away the short to intermediate routes that ASU was so successful with early on in the season. It's not a coincidence that Chris Coyle and DJ Foster have seen fewer and fewer targets in the past 3 games. Those underneath routes just aren't going to be open if the opposing secondary doesn't respect your vertical game, which was the case on Saturday.
As the opening quarter went on, the combination of great defense and Josh Hubner punting pinned OSU deep in their own territory and gave ASU several drives with excellent field position, but all the Devils were able to manage was a Kevin Ayers blocked punt for a safety and 16-10 lead. Again, the lack of a vertical game forced ASU to throw passes to the very short flat and screen passes that the stout and fundamentally sound OSU linebackers were able to sniff out and stop. Although Kelly missed on some open receivers, having OSU safeties free to roam and cover, with not having the mismatches with Coyle and Foster on linebackers, effectively shut down anything ASU wanted to do in the air. OSU was also able to get a good amount of pressure on Kelly with just their front 4, and not having to utilize a ton of blitzing.
Jon Mora was able to connect on a 31 yard FG to extend the lead to 19-10, but should have been a greater lead when taking into account field position and a dominant ASU defense. On the very next possession, OSU was the benefactor of a combination of bad luck and poor positioning again by Keelan Johnson. RB Terron Ward took an inside hand-off that should have only gone for a few yards at best. Instead, a referee was positioned between Ward and Johnson, effectively creating a "pick" and the play went for a 53 yard TD, and the end of any momentum that the Devils had built up to that point. Safeties Johnson (missed tackle) and Alden Darby (shooting the wrong gap) were both playing deep halves coverage on that play and it should have been stopped before Ward ever got into the secondary. There were a series of assignment break-downs from the ASU front 7 causing a domino effect and surrendering another big play.
ASU continued to fight, but a drive at the end of the half where ASU had stopped the Beavers on third down was extended by a Junior Onyeali roughing the passer penalty. That drive ended with an OSU field goal and 19-19 score at the half. This was the second time in 2 weeks that the same penalty has cost ASU a defensive stop and resulted in points for the opposition. In a half that felt like ASU was the dominant team, the scored was even.
The second half started with OSU jumping out to a quick ten point lead and shutting down anything that ASU attempted. What I thought was a big mistake was abandoning the run on first down, and instead throwing to short routes that were covered. This left several second and third down and long yardage situations. Again, without a vertical receiving game and go-to receivers being tightly covered, that left Kelly with few options, several 3-and-out series, and an extremely tired defense in the second half. The irony of the whole thing is that ASU could have taken a much larger lead in the first half, and OSU should have taken a much larger lead in the second.
The final OSU score came on a busted coverage that Sun Devil Nation had thought was well behind us. On a 2nd and nine, ASU dialed up a corner blitz with Deveron Carr. OSU receiver Brandin Cooks was released to safety Darby who never made his way over to pick up the coverage, allowing Vaz to see the broken play and throw to Cooks before any pressure came. Another big play touchdown that went uncontested. Maybe Cooks makes the catch and scores anyway, but it would be a ton easier to swallow if our guy had just been athletically beaten man to man instead of witnessing yet another mental error. ASU scored in garbage time with the game well in hand, so the final score was a lot closer than the actual game itself.
The depth and talent on this ASU team simply doesn't allow for mental breakdowns or mistakes. Good teams will make you pay for those, and UCLA and OSU absolutely did. To win the games that they are not favored in, the Sun Devils have to play a nearly flawless game and execute their game plan almost to perfection. Although ASU is ranked best in the Pac-12 in penalties yards against, it seems as though the penalties that ASU does commit are at the most inopportune times. Roughing the Passer penalties in back to back weeks have resulted in opposing teams extending drives and scoring after the Devils defense had earned a stop on 3rd down.
There are many of us in Sun Devil Nation that got very excited with a 5-1 record (rightfully so) at the midway point in the season. Expectations rose, but the mistake was not taking into account that the schedule was back loaded with the toughest opponents coming in the second half. To illustrate what I’m talking about…
Combined record of ASU's opponents in the first half of the schedule (Not including NAU): 14-32
Combined record of ASU's opponents in the second half of the schedule: 36-17
ASU is going into the LA Coliseum this Saturday and will have to limit mistakes and execute flawlessly against USC to give themselves a chance to win. Sound familiar?
DieHard Devils are some of the biggest fans of ASU football that exist anywhere. But being a big fan doesn't mean following a team with eyes closed and having a "we can do no wrong" attitude. A true fan can look at his team objectively, understand the relative strengths and weaknesses, and formulate informed opinions and predictions based on reality. It doesn't mean that we don't cheer for and support the program with everything we have despite the win/loss record, because we absolutely do. It means that we know that there is still some work to be done to bring in layers of talent, coach it up, and have that talent execute on the field to its potential. I am confident in the ability of this coaching staff to get us back to the top of the conference and compete for a national championship. I also know that it's a process, and it will take time. I am an ASU alumnus, Arizona native, and have bled maroon and gold since birth. I was at both Rose Bowl games and I have only missed one home game in the past 20 years. I know we're not quite there yet, but I'm glad I'm already on board while this new era of Sun Devil Football is just taking off.
Nov 04, 2012 - 09:57 am - Saturday night in Corvallis included the inspiring return of Will Sutton to the Sun Devil defense and Oregon State missing two of their key players, cornerback Jordan Poyer running back Storm Woods. After a promising start, ASU wasn’t able to keep up the pace with Oregon State in the second half and fell 26-36 to the Beavers in front of 45,979 fans at Reser Stadium.
The Sun Devils came out of the gate fast on defense and felt the immediate effect of having Sutton back as he blew through the line and created a fumble that was recovered by Junior Onyeali for a touchdown. Throughout the first quarter, ASU seemed to be in control and took a 14-3 lead on a Cameron Marshall touchdown. The Beavers bounced back quickly on the first of many big plays on the night, when OSU quarterback Cody Vaz connected with local Arizona product Markus Wheaton for a 50 yard touchdown pass. However, the Sun Devils weren’t rattled and continued to pressure by adding a safety on a blocked punt and a Jon Mora field goal. Oregon State didn’t go away and put some more points on the board to tie the score heading to the locker room at halftime 19-19. At the break, it felt like the Sun Devils should have had a bigger lead as they were playing well and seemed like they were in control.
In the second half, the ASU defense gave up some more big plays that included a big run for a touchdown and a complete blown coverage/play call that left an Oregon State receiver wide open for another score and a commanding lead. The Sun Devil offense led by Taylor Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell couldn’t get any successful drives going in the second half and didn’t get the ball much to playmakers DJ Foster and Marion Grice. Foster finished the game with only 22 yards rushing and 9 yards receiving, well below his per game average. Kelly added one more short touchdown pass to Grice with :22 seconds left in the game to make the final score, Oregon State 36 – Arizona State 26.
Nov 04, 2012 - 09:50 am - As a result of last nights loss to the #11 Beavers in Corvallis, the Sun Devils move to 3-3 in the PAC. ASU now sits at #3 in the PAC-12 South Division, behind UCLA 4-2 and USC 4-3. The Devil's final three games begin with SC this Saturday in LA, vs Washington State and at Arizona.Here are comments from Coach Todd Graham and QB, Taylor Kelly after last night's game. DieHard Post-Game Report to follow.
Nov 03, 2012 - 02:03 pm - By James Romo for DieHardDevil.com
The collective mood inside of Reser Stadium in Corvallis this Saturday will feel a lot more like a street fight than family picnic. Oregon State was just upset last week by UW, putting an end to their undefeated season. ASU has lost back to back home games bringing their record to a much more pedestrian 5-3. Both teams still have hopes of winning their respective division in the Pac-12, but both teams currently have their backs against the wall and are looking to get back in the fight and come out swinging.
Oregon State Offense vs ASU Defense
Beavers coach Mike Riley has tabbed junior back-up quarterback Cody Vaz to start in place of a rusty Sean Mannion who threw four interceptions against the Huskies after sitting out several weeks rehabbing a knee injury. Vaz replaced Mannion last week and completed 7/11 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown in less than a quarter of work. The pass-heavy Beaver offense will face the conference's best pass defense with ASU only giving up 148.4 yards per game. But much like last week, if ASU can't get the kind of pressure on Vaz that they were able to apply on quarterbacks earlier in the season, OSU has the kind of receiving weapons on the outside that will torch the secondary. Wide receivers Markus Wheaton has 50 catches for 679 yards and 6 TD's, and Brandin Cooks has 44 catches for 790 yards and 3 TD's. They make up the most formidable receiving core the Devils have faced all season, so we may see much more zone coverage in the secondary this game.
Oregon State ranks 11th in the conference in rushing offense, which may be misleading due to their talent in the backfield. Running back Storm Woods only carried the ball 15 times against UW last week, but still rushed for 90 yards and a 6.0 yard/carry average. He is also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield, which ASU struggled to stop last week against UCLA. The Devils have also had a tough time stopping the run this season allowing 173.6 yards per game (10th in the conference), which may tempt the Beavers into exploiting the run defense to use the play-action pass for big plays. Something to keep an eye on if the Beavers manage any element of success running the ball early in the game. Much of the defensive scheme is going to depend on the status of D-Linemen Will Sutton and Junior Onyeali. ASU may put a premium on slowing down the passing game by dropping more players into coverage or using less blitz packages if Sutton and Onyeali are able to go. ASU still leads the conference in total defense allowing 322 yards/game, but much of that came with an injury-free starting lineup.
Oregon State Defense vs ASU Offense
Defensively, Oregon State moves seamlessly between 4-3 and (much less) 3-4 fronts and are able to get linebackers deep into coverage, essentially taking away the short to intermediate routes that ASU has thrived on running. They can be predictable with their blitzing, but are still a handful when they come after the quarterback. When OSU gets beat for big plays, it's primarily down field and on their safeties. The Beavers boast the second ranked defense just behind ASU allowing 344.1 yards per game, but only allow (conference best) 17 points per game. The Beaver front 7 are able to create pressure on quarterbacks while still doing a good job of setting the edges for run contain (save the UCLA game). Sophomore bookends Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn are prototypical ends with Crichton leading the team eight sacks. Although fundamentally sound, the front seven don't possess the same kind of speed as Oregon (who does?) or UCLA and can be beat horizontally on quick-strike passes to the outside. Again, this plays into the strength of the ASU offensive attack with wheel routes and screens, but the Sun Devil receivers will have to do a much better job of getting down field for a few big plays to keep corners out of the flats. And as stated previously, big plays were made against them down field while in man coverage, so ASU will have to get vertical in order to open that route-running space if the underneath routes are shut down. The OSU linebackers are high football IQ guys that don't get caught out of position, and do a good job of tackling in space. Linebacker Michael Doctor is a guy that ASU will have to keep guessing and giving false reads, as he is their one true big play maker among the three. ASU will want to use speed against them, and employ more misdirection in order to create running lanes and create blown coverages.
As important as it is for ASU to get a vertical passing game going, this may be the toughest defense to do it against. The Beaver corners are better than most of the pure cover guys that ASU has faced, and the Devils still haven't been able to put up numbers on the outside against anyone. Senior corner Jordan Poyer is a true cover corner and the anchor of the Beaver secondary with five picks. Rashaad Reynolds is much like Osahon Irabor, who is a good cover corner, but excellent against the run. OSU will also leave their corners on an island, which frees up outside linebackers to either read and react or cover passing lanes, and ASU will have to disrupt that scheme in order to be the high octane offense that they want to be.
This game is another defining moment in the home stretch for ASU, and presents yet another opportunity for the Sun Devils to finally win a game that would keep them in the mix of the upper echelon of the conference. This Sun Devil team has the talent to win, but is still dealing with some key injuries on their thin defensive line that leave them a very small margin of error for victory. So keep track of every inch gained or lost during the game tonight, because every single one of them will matter and have a direct impact on the final score tonight for the Sun Devils.
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Oct 04, 2011 - 12:51 am - By Juan Roque for DieHardDevil.com
During the course of a full season, it’s safe to say that even the best of teams will at some point suffer a disappointing start to a game. On Saturday the Arizona State Sun Devils suffered that fate in a catastrophic first quarter against the visiting Beavers of Oregon State. Murphy’s Law states that if it can go wrong it will go wrong, and for the ASU offense, this was the case in the first fifteen minutes of play. After getting off to a fast start against USC the week prior, Saturday began with mistakes and miscues that nearly cost ASU the game. The twenty fifth ranked Sun Devils took the field Saturday clad in white helmets, maroon jerseys and white pants and appeared to be ready to roll when taking the field. Oregon State, 0-3 heading into this game, was looking for the upset. The Beavers came out determined to salvage their season with a huge win against a ranked opponent and came out ready to play.
Oregon State was held to a three and out by ASU’s improving defense and forced to punt. When the ASU offense took over at the 27 yard line it began what can only be described as a nightmare scenario for Noel Mazzone’s offense. Brock Osweiler, who had been very smart with the football to this point in the season, committed three turnovers on consecutive possessions. The first gaffe was Osweiler picked off by Jordan Poyer at the ASU 38. Oregon State drove the ASU 17 and had to settle for a Trevor Romaine field goal. On the next possession, Osweiler decided to run with the ball on third down and was sacked by standout Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton. During the play, he fumbled the ball; his first of the year. The Beavers drive to the ASU 4 yard line but a valiant effort by the defense held Oregon State to another field goal. The nightmare continued for the shell shocked Sun Devils as OSU took a 13-0 lead with 14:40 on the clock.
However, this was as close as the Beavers would get to victory. The Sun Devils came alive in the second quarter, forced two turnovers on defense and forced two Beaver punts. Brock Osweiler shook off the rocky start and led the Sun Devils down the field for two scoring drives. Jamaal Miles added an electrifying punt return for a touchdown that put ASU up 21-13. The Beavers made an attempt at a comeback in the third quarter, but the ASU defense stifled the Beaver passing game and escaped with a 35-20 win. Despite the poor first quarter of play, the team was able to overcome those mistakes and played near flawless in the last three quarters, with the exception of a missed Alex Garoutte field goal at the end of the half. The Beavers would eventually succumb to their own errors being penalized 13 times for 139 yards and committing five turnovers.
Grading the Game
After having his worst performance of his career in the first quarter, Brock Osweiler settled down and had a productive night. Osweiler completed 24 of 37 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns. While productive statistics-wise, he was intercepted three times and lost a fumble. While he redeemed his night leading the Sun Devils to two touchdown drives in the second quarter, his ball security issues cost him a better grade.
Not a great night for a group that is deep, fast and athletic. Take away Gerell Robinson’s 44 yard catch, and the group did not produce the way it is expected to. Aaron Pflugrad only caught three passes for 31 yards and was defended on several others. Kyle Middlebrooks was the top receiver catching five passes for 49 yards and A.J. Pickens came alive and had a nice touchdown catch in his three catch 35 yard outing. Mike Willie and George Bell didn’t put up numbers, but provided some quality downfield blocking.
Cameron Marshall ran the ball 14 times and gained 82 yards, and for the second week made a highlight reel touchdown run. He is still nursing a sore ankle and is not 100% yet. Jamaal Miles did a respectable job running 6 times for 45 yards. Miles also was lethal out of the backfield catching eight passes for 62 yards. Pass protection was decent, but Marshall did give up a sack on an OSU blitz.
The unit lost it leader when Garth Gerhart suffered an ankle sprain in the first quarter. Backup Kody Koebesky filled in admirably against a decent Beaver front seven. He snapped the ball well to Osweiler in the shotgun and made the correct calls on the offensive line in pass protection. Dan Knapp struggled against Scott Crichton who had 8 tackles and a sack. The unit as a whole gave up three sacks after allowing only one against USC but to their credit, they were not penalized.
After coming so close to making plays in the previous four games, Jamar Jarrett was a one man wrecking crew Saturday. The senior end had two sacks and pressured Oregon State quarterback Steve Mannion on several occasions. Jarrett also had three tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Will Sutton, despite being injured, had five tackles and a sack in his best game of 2011. Davon Coleman chipped in with three tackles but also pressured Mannion on several occasions. Oregon State only managed 47 yards on the ground and it was because this group controlled the line of scrimmage.
Oregon State threw the ball 60 times Saturday so this group was very limited in its involvement. Shelly Lyons led the group with five tackles and broke up a pass. Oliver Aaron, Vontaze Burfict and Colin Parker each had two stops. Tough to grade this group because they were in pass coverage so much, but they did well supporting the run in the few times they were given the opportunity.
This was the hero unit of the night. After injuries, poor tackling, broken coverages and serious doubt as to how good they were going to be this year, these guys stepped up huge. Five different backs played Saturday and all were outstanding. Alden Darby picked off two passes to go with his five tackles. Eddie Elder broke up three passes and had six tackles. Clint Floyd had six tackles, an interception and broke up a pass. Osahon Irabor picked off a pass, broke up three others and had three tackles. Deveron Carr, who had a slow start this season has come on strong the past two games. Carr led the backs in tackles with 7 and his coverage was much improved.
Jamaal Miles’ punt return for a touchdown was fantastic. He is easily one of the most entertaining players to watch in college football this year. Alex Garoutte needs to find his mojo in field goals. He has missed three of his last four attempts with the latest being a 35 yard attempt at the end of the second quarter. This is an area that is still of concern.
In the end, the Sun Devils found a way to win, exorcise the demons and break another opponent winning streak. The Sun Devils seem to control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South as they hit the road for the next few weeks to Utah and Oregon. We will know a lot more about this team and their character, focus and talent in the next 14 days. Should be a fun ride for Sun Devil Nation.
Oct 01, 2011 - 11:36 pm - Sunday, October 2, 2011 - 12:21 AM
Watch for Post Game Analysis, Statistics, Key Performances and the Look Ahead to Salt Lake City for GAME SIX.
Jamall Miles Photo Credit to SUN DEVIL, Andric Booker
Oct 01, 2011 - 02:58 pm - By Juan Roque for DieHardDevil.com
Only a week removed from breaking an eleven year hex against rival USC, the Arizona State Sun Devils face a team that has a three game win streak against them: Oregon State. Coming off a huge win, ASU again finds itself ranked in the AP Poll at #25, sits atop the Pac-12 South and controls its own destiny in its hunt for the inaugural division title and PAC12 Championship Game. After a disappointing loss in week three against an inspired Illinois team, the Sun Devils emerged from the TILLMAN TUNNEL last week, played with a sense of purpose and displayed a kind of killer instinct that had yet to be seen in 2011 by putting away the Trojans 43-22. Now that the Beavers are coming into town, this is a big game for the Sun Devils for many reasons. It’s at home, and it’s against a team that has beaten them three years in a row. The Beavers are 0-3 and it’s a game that everyone expects the DEVILS to win easily. With the oddsmakers favoring ASU by over two touchdowns, one would assume this would be a walk in the park, but that’s far from the case. Oregon State is a team that has veterans at key positions who are used to winning, and for ASU to be victorious and avoid an upset, they will need to be cognizant of this fact. The Beavers are hungry for a win and will be looking to upset the Sun Devils at home very much like they upset USC several years back. Expect Dennis Erickson to have his team ready to play a tough and physical game Saturday as the Beavers will not just roll over. This is an opportunity for ASU to make a statement that they are not going to be an up and down team. It’s a chance for them to establish consistency against an opponent coming in with a sense of urgency.
Oregon State, after being a doormat program for 35 years, emerged as a formidable team in the first decade of the new millennium. Between 1999 and 2009 the Beavers participated in nine bowl games in which their most memorable was a 41-9 drubbing of Notre Dame in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl. That team, coached by current ASU coach Dennis Erickson, featured two future NFL stars: Chad Johnson (now Ochocinco) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Oregon State was recently a contender for the Pac-10 title having taken Oregon to the end of the fourth quarter in the 2009 “War of the Roses.” This version of the annual “Civil War” between the two schools guaranteed the championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl to the winner. Although the Beavers fought to the end it was the Ducks who won a close game 37-33 and made the trip to Pasadena. The disappointed Beavers were relegated to the Las Vegas Bowl where they lost to BYU 44-20.
Since then, Oregon State has not been able to get much traction on the football field. The Beavers, coming off a disappointing season in 2010 and 0-3 so far in 2011, come into Sun Devil Stadium in desperation mode. They went 5-7 a year ago after many thought they would be a top tier conference team, and in 2011 their start is nothing less than disappointing. They lost their opener against FCS school Sacramento State 29-28 in overtime, they were embarrassed by Wisconsin 35-0 in Madison and last week, against a mediocre UCLA team, they lost 27-19. The Beavers are not a bad team, they have just played badly. They have had numerous breakdowns on both sides of the ball but at some point they will get it together and win some games. Last week, they did show improvement against UCLA after making some personnel changes and having key players return from injury. This is what makes the Beavers dangerous at this stage of the season. They will sneak up and surprise somebody and will be looking to do that against the SUN DEVILS. Head Coach Mike Riley is starting to feel the heat and will have this team inspired and ready to play.
Meet the Beaver Offense
Oregon State runs a Pro Style system and relies on its running game to open up its opportunities in the passing game. The Beavers use a halfback and tight end in most alignments but also go with three receiver sets. After two losses in which the offense was simply ineffective, Mike Riley made a switch at quarterback by benching veteran Ryan Katz and starting Redshirt Freshman Steve Mannion. Mannion, in his first start ever as a collegian against UCLA, was effective and efficient completing 24 of 40 passes for 287 yards and touchdown. Mannion was intercepted once but played with the swagger of a veteran. He is only going to get better but his skills will be tested against ASU.
The Beavers have speed and talent at the skill positions with their best player back from injury. James Rodgers made his debut last week after nearly a year being out of the starting lineup. He had five catches for 76 yards and his role in the offense will expand as the season goes on. He is fast, runs great routes and has tremendous hands. If the ball is in the area, he will catch it. Markus Wheaton, from the Phoenix area, is another weapon OSU has at Split End. His seven receptions per game average rank him third in the Pac-12, and his 91.3 yards per game rank him seventh. Halfback Joe Halahuni also came back from a shoulder injury last week against UCLA. He is an effective blocker and receiver. Tailback Malcolm Agnew is a true freshman who will be making his second start against ASU.
On the offensive line the Beavers boast one of the league’s best in left tackle Mike Remmers. Remmers is a very talented player who can run and pass block effectively. He is durable, having started in 28 consecutive games since his sophomore year after starting seven in his redshirt freshman year. The walk-on is the anchor of the Beaver front and is team co-captain. Center Grant Johnson is a force in the middle and has started 28 straight games. Johnson is a smart player very much like ASU’s Garth Gerhart.
How the SUN DEVIL Defense matches up
Oregon State relies on their running game to open up the pass which is typical for Pro Style teams. This is a game that will be dependent on ASU’s front seven on defense to stuff the Beaver running attack and pressure Mannion. The defensive line must control the point of attack and not allow Agnew to get into the open field in the run game. They need to control their gaps and force him to redirect outside the tackles making it easier for the linebackers to make their plays. The pass rush is key this week. If they pressure Mannion, it will make him rush his progressions, vacate the pocket and force throws which will lead to mistakes.
ASU’s linebackers must be disciplined with Beaver halfback Joe Halahuni and not allow him to get open in the flat because he can make the tough yards once he catches the ball. They also need to identify “play action” and be disciplined in their reads so as not to allow cheap yards by biting on fakes to the running back. The defensive backs, specifically Deveron Carr and Osahon Irabor, will need to be on top of their game to cover both James Rodgers and Markus Wheaton. They need to stay on these guys and not let them get into the secondary untouched because they can score at any moment in the passing game. Every phase of the Sun Devil defense must play effectively to shut down the Beaver offensive attack.
Meet the Beavers on Defense
Oregon State’s defensive strength is in their linebackers. Middle linebacker Feti Unga leads the Pac-12 in tackles per game with 10.3. Unga is a fierce defender who has the size and speed to become a potential All-Star in the league. The junior first year starter has a non stop motor, shows tremendous enthusiasm and plays to the whistle every snap. On the defensive line redshirt freshman Scott Crichton is the player to watch. The first year starter already has two sacks in 2011 and recorded eleven tackles against UCLA. He is very active, and like Unga, he plays to the whistle every snap. He is a relentless pass rusher and will not give up pursuit. In the secondary, safety Lance Mitchell plays with a linebacker’s attitude. The senior had 10 tackles last week against UCLA and broke up a pass. Cornerback Rashaad Reynolds makes up in effort what he lacks in size. Although only 5’10”, he has good leaping ability and good footwork.
How the SUN DEVIL Offense matches up
Oregon’s D has struggled throughout three games. They allowed UCLA to jump out to a 21-0 lead early in the game last week and were not able to overcome it. In studying the UCLA game, this unit is vulnerable to the running game. This is a golden opportunity for ASU’s offensive line to come together, dominate the line of scrimmage and open up running lanes for Cameron Marshall and company. Marshall will have the size and speed advantage against the Beaver linebackers, and Kyle Middlebrooks can outrun these guys in the open field.
On the defensive line, Crichton is the only true pass rusher they have so Dan Knapp and Aderious Simmons will need to keep this youngster at bay and keep him off of Brock Osweiler. OSU Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker will be looking for ways to manufacture pressure on Osweiller, so it’s imperative the line, specifically center Garth Gerhart, identify the blitz or any odd alignments the Beavers may form. It’s likely Oregon State will go to trickery and disguise to make up for their lack of pass rushing ability up front. Feti Unga will need to be accounted for at all times either as an edge pass rusher or blitzer.
The ASU receiving corps should have a productive day facing the smaller OSU secondary. While the Beavers have good players that cover well, they simply will not be able to account for everyone in the spread attack. This looks like a solid opportunity for Osweiler to connect with his receivers for big yardage plays against OSU.
Expect the game to be close at the beginning as the fired up Beavers will do what they can to fight for the upset. They’ll hang in there with the SUN DEVILS for a brief period, but unfortunately for Mike Riley’s team, ASU has too many weapons on offense and talent on defense. This will eventually make the difference and wear Oregon State down as the game progresses. After three years of Beaver futility the Sun Devils break another streak Saturday.
ASU 35 OSU 10
Arizona State SUN DEVILS vs. Oregon State Beavers (ASU Hall of Fame Newest Inductees at Halftime)
OCTOBER 1, 2011 - SUN DEVIL STADIUM, 7:30
Jul 26, 2011 - 01:22 am - Source, By Mark Hester, The Oregonian
Arizona State defenders converge on Jacquizz Rodgers at Reser Stadium last season. Defense should be a strength for the Sun Devils this year.
To count down the days until college football practice starts, The Oregonian will take a look at each of the Division I opponents for Oregon and Oregon State.Today: Arizona State (vs. Oregon State in Tempe on Oct 1; at Oregon on Oct. 15)
2010 recap: The Sun Devils finished 6-6 (4-5 Pac-10) and missed a bowl game for the third straight season in a season characterized by near misses. Arizona State lost on the road to Wisconsin and Oregon Stateand at home to USC and Stanford by four points or less. They were competitive against every opponent except California.
Arizona State at a glance
2010 record: 6-6
Conference: Pacific 12
Top returning players: Defensive end Junior Onyeali was Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year as a true freshman last season. Middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict made second-team All Pac-10 as a sophomore. Cornerback Omar Bolden also is a returning All Pac-10 player, but he is injured.
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