Stanford Rolls Over ASU

In a new era filled with perhaps too much optimism, the Sundevils were supposed to have the talent in place and the smart coaching to lead them. While the sky has not fallen, ASU fans got a much more realistic view of where their team is, in a horrendous loss to Stanford on Saturday night 51-28. ASU has a lot of talent at important positions, but is still very much out of touch with the new systems put in place in the off-season.

Furthermore, The team clearly not had much practice tackling. This was a night, where surprisingly the offense shined, and the defense repeatedly disappointed.

What went right: Jeff Krohn despite playing with a couple of injuries was able to deliver the deep ball with some success for three big touchdowns. ASU has found in their first two games that they have big play threats all over the field. ASU again was able to spread the ball around to many different targets, getting plenty of fresh receivers in on the play. Tight end Mike Pinkard may have had his best and most improbable catch early in the game, giving hope that this athletic talent might still learn to catch the pigskin. ASU was able to sack and pressure the QB Fasani many times in the first period of play.

What went wrong: What didn't is probably more appropriate to ask. . First and foremost the special teams absolutely harmed the Sun Devils tonight. Kick coverage was atrocious. There was a terrible snap to Nick Murphy that he still managed to punt away, but the punt was on a line that allowed the returner to bring the ball right back up the field in to SD territory. Eric Fields took a terrible penalty on a punt at the end of the first half. He threw his body into the punter after the punt getting a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down. ASU would have had the ball in Cardinal territory, but instead gave the ball back to Stanford who scored two plays later. Shaun McDonald fumbled another punt return, and Justin Taplin caught a punt inside his ten-yard line where he was tackled and perhaps hurt. In watching Oregon play USC, Oregon seems to still have great special teams despite ASU hiring Tom Osborne away. Hopefully he will be able to get the same results out of ASU soon.

ASU's defense was horrendous. Looking like they didn't understand the new 4-2-5 scheme, ASU was caught badly out of position on many plays. They tackled so poorly that it probably couldn't be called tackling. The corners were very inconsistent with some nice break ups, and some bad coverage and flat out horrible wrap-ups. The ironic part about ASU's defensive effort was the fact that they dominated the opening few series. Terrell Suggs had a sack, as did Mason Unck, and another drive ended on a sack. Stanford couldn't run the ball through the tackles and Fasani had no time to pass. Then, Stanford coaches made some adjustments and started to move the ball all over the devils. When it came time for ASU Defensive Coordinator Brent Guy to make adjustments, things only got worse. ASU had a terrible time against receivers out of the backfield, leaving many of them wide open. Every time ASU went to blitz, they were not only picked up as if Stanford knew where it was coming from, but they were burned badly. ASU's desired 3:1 big play ratio was long forgotten as Stanford continued to reel off big play after big play.

ASU didn't help matters with stupid penalties like Riccardo Stewart's late hit. Stanford scored on the very next play. Terrell Suggs virtually disappeared after the first quarter, and many times was effectively sealed off by a TE. This allowed the running backs to run right around the corner, where no CB, LB, or safety was waiting for them. The other lineman never got a push up the field, and didn't free up the LB's to make plays. Solomon Bates needs to really step up and become the superstar player he is supposed to be. Willie Daniel also had a disappointing game, and looked terribly slow on several plays. The defense looked like it expected to make the plays without working for them. The most disappointing thing was watching players constantly be out of position and continue to gamble leaving them susceptible to big plays. Brent Guy will have to work a lot harder to have success against the Pac-10.

On offense there were a few bright spots, but plenty of bad moments. Jeff Krohn is starting to remind us of Steve Young. Both are bright guys. Both are tough guys. But both run when they probably shouldn't and don't protect themselves against big hits. And both end up getting banged up badly. Jeff Krohn is built like a kicker and if he continues to give up his body like that, there will be a new battle for the starting job. Krohn looked more consistent throwing the long ball, but struggled with his overall accuracy, failing to get much past 50%. Krohn made a terrible pass that was intercepted by Tank Williams in which he badly underthrew the ball. He also overthrew the ball many times in the opening series, when ASU had good field position. The most discouraging part was watching Krohn actually believe he could beat defenders to the first down. We love the courage, but if he is indeed the best ASU has, he needs to pick his moments more wisely

ASU's O-line needs to take the longest and hardest look in the mirror. They have failed for two games to help establish any sort of running game. It is impossible to tell what plays ASU has for its running backs, because they are constantly met behind the line of scrimmage. At one point ASU had 3rd down and 1, then 4th and 2, and turned the ball over on downs. Krohn had good pass-protection on most passes, but with two future NFL players on the o-line, and the abundance of experience in this unit, ASU should be blowing people off of the line. They clearly look like an unmotivated bunch.

FB Mike Karney's fumble in the endzone resulting in a touchback was really a downer. ASU had used a fake punt to set up great field position, and Karney was almost in the endzone when his mishap occurred. ASU still had time to recover, but losing out on those points without anything to show for its trick play, really hurt.

ASU's desire to be a big play offense did nothing to help their tired defense. On too many occasions, The Sun Devil defenders had been on the field for a long time, and ASU went for the big play forcing the defense right back on the field.

You have to love coach Koetter's guts. He went for it on fourth down in his own half of the field in the first half of play. He attempted a successful fake punt on their first possession, and went for it on fourth down several times. He also brought in redshirt freshman Andrew Walter for the second consecutive game to attempt a Hail Mary before the 1st half ended.

While fans can look for the team to rebound against weaker non conference opponents the next two weeks, those possible wins against inferior opponents may have little benefit, as was the case after their San Diego State win. Clearly the Devils was not ready to play the kind of talent Stanford has. ASU's tackling, positioning, and lack of mental focus were areas begging for improvement. They failed to establish any running game, and struggled mightily on special teams. Taking untimely penalties and leaving their defense on the field for so long gave the devils little chance against Stanford's high power offense. Two weeks remain before ASU plays its next conference opponent. Let's hope the Sun Devils use that period of time wisely, in order to avoid another poor display like last night.

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