ASU's victory is a ‘messy' one

What a difference a week makes. Or does it? Granted the 54-9 win last week over Portland State wasn't a smooth victory by any means, but ASU's 41-20 triumph over NAU certainly didn't showcase a team that was supposed to progressed from week one and learn from its mistakes.

Some of similarities of both games are frustrating to no end. Once again double digit penalties were committed, 13 for 131 yards to be exact, which is the most for an Arizona State (2-0) team under head coach Dennis Erickson. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict led the defense with 11 stops but also had two personal foul infractions, one of them was part of an NAU (1-1) scoring drive.

Another handful of dropped passes were committed by the Sun Devil receivers halting offensive drives and reducing scoring opportunities.

There were a couple of differences from the season opener and unfortunately they weren't pleasing either.

The ASU rushing offense was anemic posting just 56 net rushing yards after collecting a very impressive 242 yards on the ground against Portland State. The defense surrendered nearly the same amount of yards, 238 yards, to its opponent but on Saturday night also yielded 20 points.

"I'm not happy with how we played," Erickson said. "We didn't play very well for whatever reason. We weren't in rhythm offensively like I thought we would be. We didn't run the football as well as we thought we would.

"We didn't improve from the first to the second game like the old cliché, and I don't know if I ever believe that, but that's the old cliché I guess that's out there. I've been in those games too many times in my 200 years I've been coaching and they just become annoying. You play someone you're supposed to beat and you just let them hang in there, and give credit to them it's kind of a messy game is the best way to put it."

Junior quarterback Steven Threet set career highs in attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdowns. He went 33-of-49 for 391 yards and 3 touchdowns and also had two interceptions. However, the reason for those apparently remarkable stats in ASU's inability to run the ball. Mike Willie collected his first touchdown as a Sun Devil on a 6-yd catch and finished his second ever game in an ASU uniform with eight catches for 114 yards.

NAU drew first blood with a 21-yard field goal, but Arizona State answered with two touchdowns catches by Jamal Miles and Kerry Taylor to grab a 14-3 lead. An interception by Deveron Carr isn't capitalized by the hosts, but when Threet commits the same transgression the Lumberjacks take full advantage of it with a one-yard touchdown run by Zach Bauman. A late first half field 30-yard field goal by Thomas Weber awards ASU a modest 17-10 edge at halftime.

NAU scores following the second interception by Threet, but this time it's just a 36-yard field goal which is answered with the ensuing possession by a Weber score from 25 yards out. A 62-yard pass from Threet to T.J. Simpson sets up a 4-yard rushing score by Cameron Marshall for a 27-13 lead.

Both teams exchanged touchdowns in their subsequent possessions but the Sun Devils effectively kept NAU off the scoring board in the last frame of the contest giving ASU a much harder than anticipated hard earned victory over an FCS opponent.

Needless to say that while this game certainly won't go down even as an average performance by ASU, the maroon and gold are relieved that their fate isn't the same one as Akron, Minnesota and Virginia Tech who all fell at home on Saturday to FCS opponents such as the Lumberjacks.

Furthermore, ASU's performance aside, Wisconsin is probably not entering this week's matchup on a high note either after an unconvincing 27-14 home win over San Jose State.

Nonetheless, the Sun Devils have to correct the numerous, and in some cases repetitive, errors committed in both of their first games of 2010. Having a case of Déjà vu won't only doom them against Wisconsin but also haunt them in the rest of the Pac-10 conference schedule this year.

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