Erickson praises team's resiliency in USC win

Maybe it was the lowered expectations after last week's 17-14 loss to Illinois, or maybe it was the fact that there was no "blackout," but the buzz before ASU's Pac-12 opener against USC was significantly lower than some may have expected for such an important game. Either way, the Sun Devils showed plenty of resilience in tonight's 43-22 drubbing of USC.

ASU hadn't beaten USC since 1999, and following the loss to the Fighting Illini in Champagne the week before, the Sun Devils were desperate for a bounce back win to break their 11-game losing streak to the Trojans.

"It doesn't get much better than that," coach Dennis Erickson said after the game. "Been working hard in this program for four years now, hadn't beaten them in eleven, and that's a lot of weight on your shoulders when you really think about it.

"Our players showed so much resiliency, particularly when we fell behind for the first time in the third quarter and came back and created turnovers. I think we had four turnovers and obviously they were key in the game because I think two of them they were going in and we were able to create them and the interception by Shelly. Our guys just showed a lot of resilience."

ASU was outgained by USC 402-392, but four turnovers for the Trojans, including a pick-six for senior linebacker Shelly Lyons were the difference. With Onyeali joining the list of injured Sun Devil defenders, the defense needed a game like this.

"I thought defensively, I thought Vontaze (Burfict) had a heck of a game," Erickson said of his often-criticized linebacker. "I'm proud of all the things that he deals with and how he plays.

"We didn't have a lot of guys up front so those guys were warriors all day and SC ran the ball real well on us, but we made plays when we had to."

Helping out the defense and making a few plays of their own was a balanced offense that used 36 running plays to 32 pass attempts, and got a lot of use out of their star back Cameron Marshall, who has been dealing with injuries the past few weeks.

"When he's healthy we're a little bit different running team then when he's not in there," Erickson said of Marshall. "He's a little bit more physical. Kyle and Jamal and those guys can do some things, and James Morrison would've played tonight had Cameron been hurt because he's a little more physical, but when you have a guy like that you're just a little bit better.

"I thought offensively was a great effort by everybody involved. I thought our offensive front played extremely well. Obviously Brock is pretty obvious and Cameron Marshall, who we didn't know if he was going to play, played extremely well and guys just made plays. Mike Willie made plays in the third and fourth quarter that were huge, but I just can't say enough."

While no opponent should be overlooked, it will probably be a relief for the Sun Devils next week facing Oregon State, a team well below the standard of Missouri, Illinois, and USC; still, this is a game the team has come out flat in the last two seasons.

This team is still finding itself for the most part, and even with a big win like tonight, there are still things to be corrected, but for the first time in eleven years ASU can at least hang their hats on this one and use it as a springboard for the rest of the season.

"It's good to see us play a full game," Erickson mentioned afterwards. "It puts us 1-0 in the league that's all I know. We played better, we still have work to do, but I'm not worried about that right now.

"Eleven years is a long time to not beat somebody and a traditional program like that, they should be proud of that program. Like I mentioned all week, the only people that can change that is us and that's all we said, the only people that can change what happens is us and we were able to do that."

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