LOS ANGELES -- Arizona State starting quarterback Manny Wilkins has taken hit after hit this season, but one particular hit in the second quarter of ASU's game against the University of Southern California Saturday night proved more costly than others.
After getting sacked by USC sophomore Rasheem Green with 1:19 left in the second quarter, Wilkins was slow to get up and was holding his left leg as trainers came to look at him on the field. Wilkins was able to walk off the field with some assistance and then went into the locker room. He came out for the second half was in a walking boot and on crutches on the sidelines.
Before getting injured, Wilkins was 13-of-21 for 148 yards with one interception.
“I don’t know yet, too early to tell so we will have to wait and see," ASU offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said on Wilkins' status.
Prior to Green's sack on Wilkins, 6-foot-5 260-pound USC sophomore defensive end Porter Gustin hit Wilkins hard in the backfield after Wilkins tried to get off a pass that was almost picked off by the Trojans' defensive lineman. Wilkins was slow to get up, but continued on.
ASU redshirt freshman quarterback Brady White replaced the injured Wilkins and White got his first Pac-12 action of the season.
“We felt pretty well prepared," White said. "Obviously it’s a new environment for me. I had one play at NAU. This is my first real action college ball and it was a lot of fun, but you know obviously you get out there and seeing the defense and work on the things you saw throughout the week and felt pretty comfortable after one or two plays and I’m just glad that we finished strong and we’re just going to have to get prepared for UCLA and perform better than we did tonight.”
White finished 6-of-13 for 80 yards and one touchdown.
“I thought he (White) did a really good job," Lindsey said. "You can tell he’s prepared because he came in and executed some things in a tough situation and I think there is a lot to build on for him.”
ASU head coach Todd Graham said he was "proud of Brady" for coming in for Wilkins during a time in the game when ASU was already down 27-6 headed into halftime.
Slow start on offense
Even before Wilkins had to leave the game late in the second quarter, ASU's offense only produced six points -- with both scoring drives culminating in field goals by ASU senior kicker Zane Gonzalez in the first quarter.
"Defensively, (USC defensive coordinator) Clancy (Pendergast) really challenged the guys to get to the quarterback and I'm very proud of Clancy for the schemes he instituted this week that I thought really put pressure on the quarterback," USC head coach Clay Helton said. "I was nervous going into the game with them offensively as this is a very high-powered offense."
A big reason for ASU's lack of offensive production was its struggles on first down running the ball and instead, putting itself in second and seven or longer situations. On the night, ASU faced 19 second and long situations.
“I believe we came out in the run game and that’s the basis of our offense and it put us in a bad position for third downs, long third downs and everything so we didn’t execute when it came time to execute in the running game and that’s something that we will need to do," ASU senior wide receiver Tim White said.
Lindsey said USC's defense kept ASU off-balance all night and it did a very good job of shutting ASU's offense down. The Sun Devils had 75 total yards rushing. ASU redshirt freshman running back Nick Ralston led the Sun Devils in rushing with 12 carries for 46 yards and one touchdown.
"We are a run team, a run play-action team and we couldn’t get that going and you know just disappointed," Lindsey said. "Just disappointed we didn’t play any better and that’s on me and just got to go to work and go on to the next one.”
In addition to starting slow on drives, ASU also had numerous dropped passes on the night, something the Sun Devils rarely had happen until Saturday night.
“I wish I knew (why)," Lindsey said. "It was young players. We do have a young team on offense. I’ve said that all along and tonight wasn’t our night. Didn’t make enough plays.”
ASU has trailed in the first quarter in four of its five total games and has trailed headed into halftime in three of its five total games. Graham said he believes his players have proven their ability to come back after slow starts, but USC was just the better team Saturday night.
“You don’t want to be in that hole and I know other players have said the same thing," White said. "We need to come out and we need to jump on teams and put ourselves in that situation. But if we are ever in that situation we need to come back in that second half like we have and get that ‘W’”
- ASU senior kicker Zane Gonzalez made his 85th and 86th field goal of his career Saturday night, breaking the Pac-12 career record for made field goals previously held by John Lee and Kai Forbath – both from UCLA. Gonzalez is now alone in third place in FBS history, just two behind former Florida State kicker Dustin Hopkins’ record of 86 career field goals. Gonzalez now has 445 career points and is just 21 points behind Hopkins’ FBS record of 466.
- ASU scored a season-low 20 points and recorded a season-low 303 total yards on the night. The Sun Devils' previous low for points had been 32 at UTSA on Sept. 16. ASU came into the game averaging 48.8 points per game, seventh in the country and first in the Pac-12.
- ASU senior linebacker Salamo Fiso led ASU defensively with 10 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss on the night.