Erickson acknowledges team's shortcomings

On a night where it seemed like 2010 all over again, the Sun Devils were able to pull out a 37-30 overtime victory that showed, while flawed, this version of ASU football has what it takes to win close games when it seems like the sky is falling.

With lightning striking all around Sun Devil Stadium and rain coming down on the 70,236 in attendance, the scene seemed fitting for another Sun Devil collapse led by penalties, and one very inopportune turnover. Still, when things seemed most bleak, ASU was able fight through and get a win…though not without a little luck along the way.

"I've been in a lot of those games in my life and that's football," coach Dennis Erickson stated. "When you play an opponent like Missouri and an opponent like we play next week, and an opponent like we play a week after that, a lot of things can happen. Tonight we weren't as disciplined as we were last week.

"We turned it over the one time, but we had some penalties that hurt us. None that were stupid penalties but we had penalties: defensive pass interference a couple, three times, and if you can avoid those then you end up winning football games. We happened to have them and they had them too, and once it got down to the end we were fortunate to win."

Fortune it may have been, but there is no question that in order to win games like these a team needs to make its own luck, something ASU hasn't been able to do the past two seasons. Fortunately, lady luck seemed to be wearing black tonight, and possibly could've been throwing up a pitchfork.

After muffing a punt with ASU leading 30-16 that allowed Missouri to get themselves back in the game, all-purpose back Jamal Miles, who threw a touchdown earlier in the game, was able to redeem himself by scoring the game-winning touchdown in overtime on a short pass from quarterback Brock Osweiler.

"The guy is a phenomenal athlete," Erickson mentioned of Miles. "He does it all: he runs the ball, he catches the ball, he caught that one in overtime, he threw that one. That was covered. I thought ‘Oh my golly,' and he drilled that thing in there and of course Pflu made a great play but he's a great athlete.

"There are a lot of plays made on both sides of the football, but offensively in particular, Plfu had to have as good as a game as I've seen a receiver have in a long time and Brock didn't throw an interception so there were some awfully good things. I knew it was going to be a game kind of like this, I didn't know it was going to be so high scoring, but when you have a program like them that has guys rolling through the program all the time and they have a lot of starters coming back, they came in here and battled their rear ends off and we were fortunate to get out of it alive."

While Miles saved the game, the guy on the opposite end of his touchdown throw may have been the only reason the Sun Devils were in the game to begin with. Senior receiver Aaron Pflugrad ended the night with eight catches for 180 yards (a career high) and two touchdowns. Putting his night into perspective, Pflugrad averaged 16.9 receiving yards per game in his career entering tonight's contest, and don't be fooled, every single yard was needed tonight.

"Now that he's outside he can play all those positions outside. He knows more about the game than a lot of people, surely a lot of people. He can go play different places and you can just count on him to make plays when it's thrown to him, like he did tonight.

"We felt last week after we looked at Davis that they were bringing safeties and backs up to stop the running game, so we spent some time throwing the ball up the football field on play-pass, it helped us. The post pattern was off a play-action pass to Pflu, which was a big play for us."

Not to be forgotten on a night where there were several heroes is possibly the biggest hero of all (no pun intended), Osweiler. The 6'8" Oz was making his fourth career start and showed the nation a little bit of what has had ASU fans so excited all offseason completing 24-32 passes for 353 yards, and three touchdowns to go along with his 37 yards and another touchdown on the ground.

Numbers aside, Osweiler is hands down the leader of this team. He showed it late in the year last season and willed his team to victory in the season finale in Tucson. Ever since the injury to Steven Threet, Brock has stepped up to every task in front of him and is starting to cement a legacy as a Sun Devil.

"He belongs and he'll get better," Erickson said of Osweiler. "He's a heck of an athlete and I thought he did some great things with his legs. People see a 6'8" guy out there running and it doesn't look like he's running very fast but nobody can seem to run him down so he was able to really get out of the pocket, which gives us something we haven't had here.

"A guy that can drop back and when there's pressure he can get up inside the pocket and either throw it or run it, and like I said, this is only his fourth game he's really played in, his fourth start, and he'll get better and better."


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