Sun Devils Thump Ragin' Cajuns

Leading up to this game, ASU players and coaches were swearing that they weren't looking past their last out of conference opponent. However, most of the first half, the Sun Devils seemed to be California dreaming about the game against USC next week. Nevertheless, in the second half both the rain and the average play came to an end and gave way to the powerful offense and dominating defense that fans have been accustomed to this year. The end result was a very convincing 63-27 win.

The offense sputtered in its first possession so badly, that along with going three and out it had to call a timeout. Nonetheless, that was hardly a sign of things to come. ASU scored on 9 of its 14 possessions, which translated into 543 yards of total offense. Quarterback Jeff Krohn was masterful again passing for four touchdowns and 290 yards, while completing 12 of his 23 passes. Last game Ryan Dennard was the primary beneficiary of Krohn's play, scoring three touchdowns. Tonight, it was fellow receiver Shaun McDonald who tied an ASU record for most touchdowns in a game with four. The running game for the second straight week provided a balanced attack amassing 215 yards. Tom Pace led all rushers with 77 yards on nine carries, and two touchdowns. Pace combined great vision with grittiness and determination, and reminded all of us why he was the Devils' leading rusher last year. Overall, the offensive scoring came on mostly short drives that stunned the opposing defense and gave very little rest for the ASU defense.

The defense expected its opponent to test the secondary early and often, but it was Louisiana Lafayette's ground game that racked havoc with ASU in the first half. On the night, the Ragin' Cajuns had 114 yards rushing to go along with 252 yards passing. Putting ample pressure on the quarterback was the battle cry before the game, and with three sacks suffice to say that the defensive line carried out the coaches' wishes successfully. Actually, the Sun Devils defense was camped in its opponent's backfield all night recording 11 tackles for a loss. Terrell Suggs registered 2 sacks, 2 other tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, and a pass deflection. Thus, it comes as no surprise that he led all ASU defenders with ten tackles.

For those who were feeling giddy over the excellent play of the special teams unit last week, tonight's game was a regression to the brutal reality of the numerous miscues, which were prevalent most of this season. As usual, kicker Mike Barth was masterful in his kick-offs, allowing only 3 of them to be returned. However, the three that were run back by Louisiana Lafayette were for a total of 73 yards. Punter Mick Murphy kept playing up to his all Pac-10 caliber with an average of 45.8 yards on 4 punts. The biggest blunder came when Daryl Lightfoot fumbled his punt return for a loss of 15 yards, which led to a ULL touchdown. Another gaffe was a false start penalty that negated a successful 52-yard field goal, and forced the Devils to punt. Which special teams will show up for the USC game? The answer to that question may well determine the outcome of ASU's next game.

The USC dress rehearsal, also known as the Louisiana Lafayette game, was a true reflection of ASU's tendencies so far this season. The Offense is highly efficient, the defense is still a roller coaster when it comes to consistency, and the special teams beg for improvements. ASU has already got a dose of conference play, and the results were painful to say the least. In USC, the Devils will play undoubtley the angriest team in America, and will have to so on the road. The Trojans have been losing very close games against quality teams, and is highly anxious to get off the snide. Next week, ASU will try and keep its Pac-10 foe angry for just one more week.

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