As 30-point favorites the Devils won by 34 and the simplified Offensive game plan worked in putting up over 500 yards. The Defense was as opportunistic as they have been this whole season and caused another five turnover game. ASU just rolling on both sides of the ball.
Right now the Sun Devils are playing at a very high level and this last Saturday we were really able to see how much depth and "ability" this team has. The best thing about this whole situation and the way the Devils are playing right now is that it feels like the potential or the ceiling has not even been close to being reached. That this team is a rocket just waiting to blast off and the season is just there for the taking. It's a great feeling to have when thinking about the Sun Devils a feeling that has been missing and you always want to have.
The Devils now find themselves in the driver's seat. With four regular season games ahead of them and the next two on the road there is still a lot of season left. It will be fun to watch the upcoming game against an improving UCLA team on the road which will very much determine the South Champion. The Sun Devils have struggled for a decade now when playing in California so let's find out how much of a corner this upcoming week they have turned. I have a feeling it is going to be a very hard fought entertaining game!
Time to talk some Offense!
What a fun day as a fan! With 21 points scored in the first quarter it was a special deal to watch the Devils come out of the gate so fast and an area we have wanted to see happen this whole season. So much participation from a depth stand point and so much of an overall team effort there are really nothing but positives to take away from Saturday's game.
The rushing department finally put forth a 200+ yard game and Brock was able to spread the ball to 10 different targets! It is such a hard thing to defend when the QB is able to spread the ball around like that. 65 Offensive plays with an 8 yard average per play will win just about every game if you don't turn the ball over which ASU did just once and unfortunately it lead to a Defensive touchdown. The one area that could be improved overall would be the third down efficiency as ASU only went 4 for 11. Time to grade that film!
Quarterback Grade: A
Brock Osweiler was up to his usual strong performance. He led both from a performance stand aspect and was fiery in character as well. Stats for the day showed 18/28- 307 Yards- 2 TD. The one critique would be that Brock left some balls out there with some under throws. He probably should have been 22/28 in my opinion. Brock did a great job checking down routes and finding the right decision. You can tell at this point he is meshing well with the offensive line in the pass game and is really finding his feet in the pocket now.
We finally got to see Mike Bercovici in the game and his one throw was a dart. Hopefully over the next couple games we get to see some more playing time as he has a lot of upside and needs some more game experience! Nice 24-yard run but the other backup, Taylor Kelly
Offensive Line Grade: A
A great day from this group I really feel they improved a lot since the Oregon game. There was a lot better pass sets being used from the offensive tackles Dan Knapp and Aderious Simmons. I though each one of those guys were using better kick steps and engaging the Defensive players with much better hand placement, Knapp especially! The interior line was opening up some massive holes in the run game and it was evident with the backs scoring on plays that looked like you could have drove a semi through them. Great performance from this group and it will be fun to see them match up against UCLA this next week. I have a feeling this next game will be their best of the season! Go Hogs!
Running Backs Grade: A
Cameron Marshall was on fire and the bye week did his body wonders. You could see the cuts this week and the ankle looked all healed up. Cameron used better pass protection technique and finally looked like the guy we all know he can be! Still waiting for him to have that monster game I know he can have and I think it happens this week against the Bruins.
James Morrison looked like a man on a mission and his runs were very aggressive and impressive to watch. The one guy who I have wanted to see succeed all season long, Kyle Middlebrooks, seemed to never be able to find his groove. His pass blocking was exposed and the ability to break the tackle was not there as he has struggled with all season long. This guy has some great speed and just needs to put his foot in the ground and burst! Head North and never slow down... He tends to overlook the cutback and want to motor down when the holes are there. I still believe in you Kyle and I know you can get it done!
Wide Receiver Grade: A
Ten different receivers caught balls Saturday afternoon and the performance was a thing of beauty. A.J. Pickens has some nice speed and really impressed me on this catch up our sideline! He needs to see some more targets on the run like that and he will definitely come up with some more big gains!
Kevin Ozier showed some great concentration on his touchdown catch as the Colorado defender seemed like he couldn't have been in better position to make a play. The downfield blocking by all the receivers keeps getting better each week and it was really shown on Aaron Pflugrad's big catch as the lane just stayed open. UCLA has a very suspect secondary and this group has the chance this week to really do some damage! Look for the receivers to go off this upcoming week!
The Defense was very strong again and the turnovers just keep coming for this group! When you watch them play you just get this gut feeling now that the ball is going to be coming back our way and I find myself just waiting to see how or who goes and makes it happen! The secondary played one of their best games of the year and the whole linebacking core was all over the field.
The D-Line played well yet in my opinion left a lot of plays out on the field I'm sure they would want back after watching their film. This next week will be a test as the Bruins have slowly started to get a bit of an Offensive swagger over the last couple of games. I look forward to the match up and another solid performance from this group of over achievers! Defensive Line Grade: B
A solid day but like I stated it's a day the Devils up front would probably want to play again. With 42 pass attempts the Devils were only able to collect one sack from this position group. A lot of drop back pass game should have allowed the Sun Devils to show off their pass rushing skills and it just looked like guys were allowing themselves to be blocked. I say this cause there was way too much running down the middle of the offensive blocker.
The key to any pass rush is the ability to get on an edge and break the blocker down to one side. Getting him to run with you and using your move or moves to get yourself to the target (QB). When you rush the middle you are giving up all your blocking surface and allowing someone usually much bigger than you to get their hands in good position to make the proper block. We have guys who have great get off up front. Basically a position group, especially on the edge, that looks like converted linebackers.
This group just needs to establish more of a mindset that they are NOT going to be blocked and that no matter what that target is going down a lot more than once a game. If they get tired then tap in the next rotation especially at DE now that we have Junior back in the mix. The rush department from this position group was a strong effort however they need to do a better job holding down the edge and not losing contain keeping the runners being funneled back inside to the pursuit. UCLA will be a good game for these guys to get after the QB and I look for them to come out going all out!
Linebackers Grade: A
Best overall game from this position group. The backers were all over the field both in pass and rush defense. The pursuit was the best it has been all year and the stat sheet showed a lot of production from the boys in the middle. Oliver Aaron played what I thought was his best game of the year really showing some much better tackling technique. Colin Parker was solid playing both outside and inside. Vontaze Burfict also recorded what was probably his best game of the year on the stat sheet. He was hitting hard and did a better job wrapping up on contact. Great performance Linebackers!
Secondary Grade: A-
I want to give this group an A+ but I just can't do it as we allowed over 330 yards passing. My biggest complement to this position group though was their performance in the run support. Tackles coming from the secondary all over the field it was SO awesome to see. Clint Floyd, Keelan Johnson and Eddie Elder really did a great job at the Safety position. These guys are getting much better from week to week and I really appreciate their effort to be coachable as it is very evident in their improvement through the season.
Osahon Irabor, Deveron Carr and Alden Darby also played a strong game and I really think Carr may have played his best game of the season. Keep improving Secondary as you are really starting to create something special here. Can't wait to watch these guys against UCLA!
Special Team Grades:
Alex Garoutte was 2 for 2 and played very well kicking much better on kickoffs. His 46 yard field goal was impressive and I think Alex is building confidence each week. Keep it up Alex!
Josh Hubner averaged 47 yards on five kicks and had 2 inside the 20. The thing that he is still struggling with his kicking when deeper in our own territory which is when it is most important. Coverage Teams: B+
Finally some better coverage skills being shown. There was only one punt returned for two yards and seven kickoffs returned with the longest of 32 yards. This is the best outing these groups have had all season long and one we need to continue to get better at!
Returning Grade: B
I was waiting for a big return all day... and I just kept waiting. Like I have said all season long this group of returners is a time bomb just waiting to go off. So LET'S SEE IT! Blockers need to do a much better job sustaining blocks as it looks far too often we are getting beat in this department.
Overall Team Grades:
Special Teams: A-
I find myself sitting back as a fan and really soaking this whole thing in. It is such a prideful thing to be an Arizona State Sun Devil right now. Our recruiting is rolling and we have a top 20 team right now that is going to continue to get better each week. The best thing to see from some of these position groups as the season has matured is the ability to be coachable and to see that improvement from seasons start to end. It's really evident in a lot of players across the board and it shows this coaching staff is doing a wonderful job.
Now here is the true test. The season is in its final stretch and the Devils are going to be the favorites in their remaining match ups. There cannot be any let downs and this wave of momentum needs to continue to radiate throughout Sun Devil Nation. The sleeping giant seems to be waking up not only on the field but off of it as well. It is now the job of all Sun Devil fans to make great effort in fully supporting this team and their destiny. Sun Devil Stadium needs to be SOLD OUT for the remaining two home games with no excuses! It is the difference in being a true fan and a fair weather kind of a person.
Believing in something is a special thing and I fully believe in this team as a whole. Here is to a successful final stretch and here is to beating the UCLA Bruins this upcoming week! Go Devils!
Defensive end Kyle Caldwell played for the Sun Devils from 2003-2006 and finished with Sun Devil career with 90 tackles and 10.5 sacks. He earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honors in 2003 and Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recognition in 2006. A graduate of Scottsdale Saguaro High School, Caldwell was a member of the Sabercats' coaching staff who won the 2010 Class 4A Division I state championship.