Osweiler ignites offense off the bench

In their final contest of the season at Sun Devil Stadium, ASU sent their 13 seniors out on a high note and it was mostly thanks to a somewhat unlikely hero.

Coming into the game at the 5:19 mark of the first quarter for injured signal caller Steven Threet, sophomore Brock Osweiler ran the offense like a seasoned veteran amassing 380 yards and five total touchdowns in the 55-34 win over UCLA. "Things just kind of happen sometimes like that," Osweiler said of his performance against the Bruins. "Steve went down and I just went in and did what I was coached to do all year and Steve has done so much for this football team this season, and he was our guy. My role for the majority of the season was to work as hard as I could at practice and just continue to get better.

"It's pretty cool to be able to go out and have a performance like that because you finally see that hard work paying off. It's true, you work hard and great things will happen."

The Sun Devils were explosive today on offense as they had three plays from scrimmage go over 70 yards: two Osweiler passes to T.J. Simpson and Deantre Lewis, and a 71-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Cameron Marshall who ended the day with 147 yards on 17 carries. 130 of those yards came in the second stanza.

"The O-line did a great job," Marshall mentioned. "In the first half we were getting a lot of short three, four yard gains, and just getting up in there. The O-line was telling me ‘just keep being patient, it's gonna open it, it's gonna open up,' and I trusted my guys and it was a huge hole, I had one guy to beat and did the rest from there.

"Things just started clicking for us a lot. From Brock completing all those touchdown passes, and the run game opened up a lot in the second half. Everything just kind of went our way."

While things went their way today, it seems as though for the entire year whenever something could go wrong for the Sun Devils it has. Taking the brunt of the criticism has been head coach Dennis Erickson, but his players, both in their performance and their words proved that they have his back.

"The passion coach E has for us players, each week he'll address us and he tells us how much heat he's taken and he tells us he doesn't care," Marshall stated. "He loves us and he has faith in us and confidence in us and he knows what we're capable of. He's been in the game for a while, longer than I've been born, so he knows his team and he knows what we're capable of. We love playing for him."

While the offense put up huge numbers, the key to the game came mid-way through the 3rd quarter when the defense found themselves in a bind. After Vontaze Burfict got hit well after the play by a UCLA player who did not receive a flag, freshmen defensive end Junior Onyeali argued on behalf of his teammate and got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Burfict who complained to the official received the same punishment.

With the ball placed on their own 6-yard line, the ASU defense needed to keep the UCLA offense from regaining momentum and prevent a score. Sure enough, the Sun Devils staged a goal line stand.

"Right after that (penalty) was called, the flags, you could tell everybody was pretty mad so it really got everybody hyped up," linebacker Brandon Magee noted. "I was ready to go, I was hot. I was like ‘I'm going to hit anything with the ball,' that was everybody's mentality.

"I just knew that somebody had to step up and make a big play right there. I saw their motion receiver and I just saw it on film this morning so I knew exactly what to do, so we handled that really well."

Following that defensive stop the Sun Devils stroked again when Marshall broke out for a 71-yard TD, keeping the proverbial pendulum stuck in favor of the Sun Devils.

"The defense had to step up and make some moves because the offense will feed off of us," Magee offered, "so we just thought that if we get out there and make plays we'd start rolling so that's exactly what we did."

The offensive outburst allowed the Sun Devils to make up for the fact that they gave up 442 yards and had 12 penalties for 114 yards. Needless to say, this was a team effort.

"We wanted to give the seniors the win that they deserve," junior defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, pointed out. "Make sure their last (home) game at Arizona State University was the best game of their lives. That was our goal for the whole game."

"It was awesome," Guy said of the offense, "It was the best feeling in the world to see that happen. It gave the defense the motivation to go out there and play harder and harder, and as we were playing harder the offense started playing harder so it just became a really fun game to play. Nobody was worrying about anything, just out there playing football like we were little kids."

Having fun, and having fun while winning are two different things, and the play of Osweiler provided the spark that was needed for that to happen today, and if he didn't have a fan in Magee before, he definitely does now.

"Man, right when he came in he was throwing bullets down the field, and I was like ‘Thank you God!,' it was great man," Magee said with a smile, "Oh gosh, he did really good today. I'm really proud of him."

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