Devils Clobbered by Beavers in Pac-10 Opener

The Sun Devils first three games were supposed to be the proverbial wake up call. Amid high pre-season expectations, the team limped to a 2-1 start while raising one red flag after another. Unfortunately, the game against Oregon State was déjà vu all over again. The 45-17 defeat has sunk the team to new lows and casts even a heavier cloud of doubt as to whether this team can make the 2003 season a respectable one.

The lone bright spot for the offense was its running game. Even though it still hasn't found the ability to consistently convert short yardage situations to first downs, the emergence of Hakim Hill was a much-welcomed sight. The coaching staff abandoned the running back by committee, and the sophomore took full advantage of his first ever start. Hill rushed for 115 yards and averaged a spectacular 4.8 yards a carry. On the other hand, quarterback Andrew Walter followed a horrible Iowa game, with an equally dreadful outing tonight. The junior was a mere 17-42 for 231 yards. His two touchdowns (to Skyler Fulton and Derek Hagan) were negated by his three interceptions, as well as the numerous times where he missed his receivers. However, for the second week in a row, it seemed that the signal caller and his arial targets were once again suffering from severe miscommunication. The 2-13 3rd down conversion numbers may be the most telling statistic in that department. The unlikely leader in passing yards was the offensive star of the game, Hakim Hill, who had 92 yards on six receptions. Redshirt freshman Terry Richardson established career highs with 79 yards on four receptions.

The Sun Devils defense was once again an opportunistic unit sacking Oregon State three times, as well as notching three interceptions – two by Jason Shivers and one by Riccardo Stewart. The two safeties led the team in tackles with 13 and 9 respectively. It also continued to give the offense good field position on several occasions. On the other hand, it did allow for some crucial third down conversions by the home team (who was 8-12), and failed to stop Beaver stars Stephen Jackson (93 yards rushing, one TD) and James Newson (124 yards receiving and one TD).

On special teams, it was one miscue after another. Tim Parker punted five times for a measly 37.2 yard average, and the punt coverage team who has been struggling all season allowed for a punt to be returned for a touchdown. Jesse Ainsworth made his first field goal as a Sun Devil – connecting on a 34 yard attempt. The fake goal employed by the Sun Devils earlier in the game failed miserably, but was aided by a careless Oregon State penalty. Josh Golden was repeatedly fumbling on his punt and kickoff returns. Lightfoot relived Golden and turned in a solid performance, especially on kickoff returns where he amassed 98 yards on five returns. Penalties were once again an issue for ASU who was flagged nine times for 62 yards. The most crucial mistake, was the penalty on the attempted blocked punt, which kept an OSU drive alive, and led to another touchdown. The Devils also lost two fumbles: one on a high snap by Drew Hodgdon in a shot gun formation, and another by Skyler Fulton running for yards after a catch.

Licking its wounds from the beating in Corvallis, the Sun Devils come home to face a USC team who also is starting their conference play a 0-1. Thus, this match-up obviously lost a lot of its luster that caused ABC to decide and televise it. Nevertheless, it gives Coach Dirk Koetter and his squad one more (and maybe last) chance to prove the critics wrong. ASU is now facing a season that is close to circling down the drain. A victory against USC can stop the bleeding and restore the maroon and gold pride. A new start – that is all the Sun Devils and their followers are yearning for in this young 2003 campaign.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories