Devils in the Details: ASU at Oregon State

The ups and downs of the 2012 season continued as Arizona State traveled to Corvallis this weekend and fell 36-26 to Oregon State. The game started much like last week's affair against UCLA with ASU coming out on fire. The defense was rolling in the first quarter and the offense was moving the football. But things would settle and the Beavers proved they were the sharper team at whistle's end

This is ASU's third straight loss and after breaking down the film it is very clear there are things that need to be fixed. So many positives to look at yet so much that needs to be adjusted especially with specific technique out of players. This season is very much not over and the Sun Devils have so much to still play for. Stay alive in 2012 or let a couple games bring it all down. Time will tell. The only thing to do is stay All In!

Lets dive right into the breakdown and talk about what happened in each position group.

Key Offensive Stats:

303 Total Yards. Well below seasons average.

9 Punts, 4-17 on Third Down. After the 1st Qtr. there was little ball control.

Taylor Kelly was 22-41 passing, completion rate just near 50%. One TD and one interception.

9 total catches by the wide receivers. With 41 passing attempts on the night this number should be much higher. The downfield passing game was horrible.

31 total yards for D.J. Foster. The freshman has led the way for this offense and he was left on the sideline far too often.

Position Grades:

Quarterback Grade: D

Kelly did lead the team with 80 yards rushing and showed a lot of the burst that was fun to watch last spring. The read zone scheme allows Kelly to really take advantage of the aggressive edge defense at times.

However, the night was a rather sour performance from Kelly who more often than not was scrambling all over the field every time he dropped back. His efforts to move the ball down field were contained and nearly every ball thrown further than 15 yards was very much off target.

On several of these misses Kelly was clearly uncomfortable in the pocket throwing off balanced and never setting the feet to throw. At this point and after several weeks of scramble drill it seems Kelly is not trusting the line up front to build the pocket usually turning to run before he should have which will change the whole dynamic of the pass concepts.

Oregon State played a lot of man against ASU's passing game and in the end it often caused many passes not being able to be delivered on the target.

Michael Eubank came into the game and although he did not throw a pass attempt he did have three rushing tries for just three yards. In recent weeks Eubank has been seldom inserted into the game, and it will be interesting to see if Kelly's performance moving forward allows Eubank to see the field more often.

Running Back Grade: C

Cameron Marshall led the running backs with 44 yards rushing and a score. Marshall had ten carries on the night averaging 4.2 yards a carry but still looks so limited in terms of what he can do in space past the line of scrimmage.

After watching the play of Marion Grice and D.J. Foster, I think the fan base now has a higher bar set for the type of play they want out of the running back position. The simple fact that Grice and Foster only carried a combined nine times is very surprising since both have been on fire the last couple of weeks.

This offense has shown too much success with the ball in their hands to see this number so small this week. Grice did lead the team with six catches and a touchdown but the simple fact that Foster only touched the ball seven times is fairly depressing. The freshman was 2nd in the country with plays over 10 yards. It has to be a priority to get the ball to him moving forward and I am sure the coaching staff understands this.

The same needs to go with Grice has he only saw four carries on the night.

Overall, the backs looked to really be keyed on and the linebacker play from Oregon State was outstanding. They knew who they needed to stop and when you can easily man up the receivers it allows you to do a lot up in the box.

Wide Receivers Grade: D-

I mentioned it in the key stats above but the receivers were completely taken out of the game. Nine total catches, five to Jamal Miles, from the receivers as a whole. Weak efforts to separate from man coverage and a very average night blocking in the run/screen game. Rashad Ross only had one catch for 21 yards and Alonzo Agwuenu found the stat sheet with three catches for 26. The tight play of Oregon State's secondary really put blanketed ASU's offense and unless the receivers step up with great individual efforts moving forward the offense will continue to struggle.

Tight End/H Back Grade: C+

Chris Coyle was on the field the whole night and did a decent job handling the front line of the Beavers. He has shown this whole season that he can seal off defenders with quick hips and feet and this effort was much of the same. Coyle did haul in five catches for 28 yards but overall he seemed to be the missing link in the offense when the receivers were contained. The offense tried going to Coyle in the red zone down the sideline to end the third quarter but the coverage was just too tight. Not the best night out of the position and hopefully the connection can ignite back up in the L.A. Coliseum next week.

O-Line Grade: D-

A harsh grade but the effort was very much near failing.

The pass blocking, especially on the edge, was very bad and the run game was stuffed by the box of Oregon State. Brice Schwab was seemed to get slower over the last couple weeks with his feet and for some reason can't get his set going at all in the pass protection. The Beaver ends were able to set him up on all sorts of moves.

The inside was given up far too much on a couple plays and the pass game was dramatically affected by all this pressure. Evan Finkenberg was solid in effort but the physical play of the Beavers had him beat on a lot of plays. Guards Jamil Douglas and Vi Teofilo were stout in the run game but very much exposed in pass protection as well.

A lot of different looks from the Oregon State's defensive line freed up blitzes inside and the inexperience with these two was shown in ability to pick up those calls. Overall, Oregon State looked meaner and more disciplined at the line of scrimmage and thus the results.

On the night the offense was smothered after the first quarter. Oregon State really showed the blue print to beating ASU. Press and play tight on the receivers and bring it up front off the edge. Until the efforts out of the offensive line improve and the receivers can find space against tight coverage the results won't improve the rest of the season.

Key Defensive Stats:

424 Total Yards Against. Saturday night had its ups and downs, but Oregon State found their rhythm after a rough start and Cody Vaz looked like the right guy in Corvallis.

14-33 passing with three touchdowns and one interception. Defense caused a low completion rate, yet the average yards per completion was 19.1 (for a total of 267 yards).

4-17 on third down defense. A solid night on the most important down.

Position Grades:

Defensive Line Grade: C+

Another position group that played very inconsistent. Their leader Will Sutton was back and made his presence felt earlier in the game recording a sack and creating a huge swing in momentum. His moves to get to the quarterback are ever changing and he has a patented move he likes to go to called a swipe. I've watched him use it his whole career and it is really hard to block.

Using the momentum of the offensive lineman's punch the swipe takes both hands of the rusher and does a sort of reverse "wax on" motion as you chop both hands of the blocker down and take the inside path. It's set up with his great get off and that was not missing Saturday night.

However, it was very clear after watching the film that Sutton was favoring his knee very much and in the run game he was pushed around quite a bit.

Davon Coleman although active was no match for the double tight end sets he was seeing and there were some major runs busted off through his lack of holding the point. Coleman is not the biggest lineman, especially when he lines up inside. Too much body leaning and not enough separation found him in too many bad match ups.

Jaxon Hood was tough recording a sack and showing up on a lot of effort plays. He plays very quick and there are a lot of plays that his counters and quickness inside take him to the play. However, just like the issues with Coleman, Hood was beat in the run game very often getting pushed around.

Mike Pennel looked strong but his effort to pursue and get down the line of scrimmage was just what it has been since day one, slow and poor. Like many have said, his body language speaks volumes about his play and between plays he seems to just not be having fun out there.

Carl Bradford had a very active night on the stat sheet and came up clutch on effort plays. Yet, just like last week I have to criticize the play off the edge of the defense. Not so much Bradford's actual play but the scheme of what is going on. Far too many plays where Bradford goes inside leaving the C gap wide open in the run game. This happened on some costly gains and in the pass rush as well.

The lack of containing the pocket and playing strong on the edge has gotten the ASU defense in so many problems this season. Over loading a side and collecting pressure at times will get you lots of tackles for loss and sacks but over time you are going to get exposed more often than not.

At this point in the season I'm starting to wonder if it is actually a schematic problem that is busting the defensive calls or if it is individuals doing what they want and not what they are coached. Either way, it needs to get fixed. Running a defense that wants to pride its self of the blitz concepts needs to also find ways to play a sound base format as well with guys still being very much accountable for their gaps every play. I don't see a lot of this going on and the lanes are there for the taking on a lot of plays.

Linebackers Grade: C

Brandon Magee usually accounts for this group having a positive grade. The others however bring it down.

Magee was a work horse collecting 12 tackles and a beautiful sack that came on a well timed blitz. He was all over the field and although the rushing defense was poor, it was not because of his play.

Steffon Martin had one of his better games on the stat sheet totaling four tackles and a nice sack. Martin however, was easily blocked throughout the game during the Beavers' running attack, and looked very physically out matched against that Offense.

Anthony Jones fit in this category as well and did not do much to help the defense slow down drives by the Beavers. Spur Backer Chris Young was out of position on the edge several times and really busted several coverages out in the flat and curl/hook. He seems to get very stuck with his eyes in the back field and doesn't pan the field the way you need to play out in space to prevent crossers from beating you in your zone.

The lack of this execution allowed the Oregon State tight ends and backs to do work against ASU all night and it was clear they were going to keep this going from start to finish. In the end, that approach was well executed.

Secondary Grade: F

One of the only failing efforts from this entire season as the secondary played a very poor game.

Deveron Carr looked like his 2011 self and not the guy who has played so improved early in this season. Carr was out of position and made some decisions in the pass defense that cost the Sun Devils dearly. His ability to cover in space showed him getting beat down field several times, two for scores.

I really feel Oregon State had a plan to go after Carr and sure enough it worked.

Osahon Irabor was also out of position throughout the night and although he played better than Carr, I'm sure he wouldn't say this was one of his better games. The tackling from the secondary was poor and the angles in pursuit were even worse.

Overall, the secondary looked to be moving at a speed that wasn't even close to Oregon State's at times. Keelan Johnson was beat on several big plays and although he hauled in an over thrown ball for an interception, he was beat badly in the run game taking angles that wouldn't allow many to make a play on the ball carrier.

Alden Darby also took some poor angles, especially when the defense runs the corner blitz which he replaces over the top. The timing of those blitzes were poor and run from distances that would have never allowed the blitzer to get home.

In the end of it all it was a lot of big plays and the secondary is really to blame on nearly all of them. It doesn't get any easier this upcoming game against the wide receiver core of USC. Hopefully this group finds a way to play like I know they can in the upcoming match up.

On the night the defense was beat and beat very easily at times. The blitz game hampered the Sun Devils more than it helped and with guys out of position it made the night very easy for Vaz to pick his reads and make his throws.

After several games of serious breakdowns in the box I am personally very confused on what and when the correct play is going on. When I say that I mean guys actually being where they are supposed to be and hopefully doing what they are coached rather than free lancing.

A simpler and more base look with this group aligning in a 3-4 and dialing it up when its appropriate might be the easy fix here and there is nothing wrong with playing base and seeing things out in front of you rather than taking the chances so often.

The USC offense will look much like Oregon State at times the way they align and the style in which they operate their group so hopefully some solid fixes were made off this game film moving forward.

Special Team Grades:

Kickoff Team: D

Four kickoffs from Alex Garoutte and zero touchbacks. The coverage team was out of position and the ball was able to bounce into wide lanes. Four returns for 110 yards and a long return of 39 yards. Not a good night for this group.

Kickoff Return Team: B

Eight chances, five touch backs. Three returns from Ross for 72 yards. The Beavers could teach Garoutte how to put it in the end zone.

Field Goal Team: F

1 of 2 equals 50%. That is an F grade no matter how you shape it and although Mora is still new to his role it is clear the Sun Devils are still very much in trouble when it comes to the kicking game.

Punt Team: A-

Josh Hubner had 8 punts with an average of 47.2 yards. He had three land inside the 20-yard line and two that went for touchbacks. Pin those two inbounds and this grade would have been an A+. Taylor Kelly also pinned his punt down near the goal line and proves to be useful here when they ask him to carry out that play.

Punt Return Team: D

This grade would be an F if it were not for the block and the ensuing safety. This whole season we have all been dumbfounded about what is going on with this unit and after this game that riddle continues.

There is no block on at times and yet no return being set up either. Guys are rushing up field doing a fair job of simply containing the punter but not getting their hands on anyone pursing downfield and often times there are four or more guys in the face of the returner when catching the ball. Having played for some great special team coaches throughout my career I am so confused on how this staff is not getting after this group differently with the weapons ASU has in the return department.

Overall Grades:

Offense: C-

Defense: D

Special Teams: D

After three straight loses it is easy to hit the panic button. Yet, as a coach and as a player it is also easy to see what needs to be fixed.

The fundamentals are being left behind and the momentum of confidence in several key positions seems to be missing the last couple games. Players look to be playing out of position and emotions of frustration may be pulling guys in directions on the field they shouldn't be in.

The one great thing about this team and this staff though seems to be how tight they are and through all of this how they are not making the "dumb" penalties of teams past. At this point last year you would have seen a hand full of personal fouls in that game and players acting out in frustration.

Not the case this year and you can tell this team wants to keep striving to get better each week. Going forward and with several huge games up next the Sun Devils need to keep focus and fix the small things.

I believe this team can finish the season strong and still compete for a great spot in the Pac-12 South. I believe Coach Todd Graham is still ahead of expectations in his first year and I believe in the players on the field.

The small things will equal big results and the makeover of ASU Football is still very much on track. Stay All In and don't ever forget the reasons you are an ASU fan. Go beat USC and everything is back on track in 2012. Best of luck to the Sun Devils and go do something special in L.A.



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 is also a member of the Sabercats' coaching staff who won the 2010 Class 4A Division I state championship.

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