As Dirk Koetter said, " We got our butts kicked." There is no need to expand on that comment. ASU had a terrible game from both an offensive standpoint and a defensive one. Eerily similar to Stanford, ASU came out dominating on defense. Terrell Suggs was everywhere getting sacks and tackles from behind the line of scrimmage. After a couple of series, USC made adjustments and ASU was never the same again. On offense it was clear the devils weren't going to have a good day, when quarterback Jeff Krohn fumbled on the very first play of the game. Then, a couple of possessions later ASU had good field position, and they thought they had a TD with Shaun McDonald. Much to the dismay of the Sun Devils, the ref incorrectly ruled it incomplete. From that point on ASU had a nightmare of a time on offense beginning with Krohn getting injured, and ending with Matt Cooper laughing about how terrible he is on the field. Ironically, ASU was able to run the ball at will in the first quarter, as USC was geared up to stop the pass. Mike Williams looked great in the first quarter, as did Delvon Flowers. Obviously there is no way to make this game sound decent. However, it is fairly easy to realize that the game wouldn't have been such a blowout had Cooper not thrown to white jerseys last night. USC was able to get 21 points off of INT's.
On defense ASU has guys still learning how to play. With first-year players like Lamar Baker, RJ Oliver, and Emmanuel Franklin, the corners are going to just have to roll with the punches and learn to excel over time. The experience they are gaining now is going to make them better in the future. They would be helped out if their defensive line could get any more of a push. Jimmy Verdon needs to be playing much more than Brian Montesanto. Verdon is bigger, faster, more athletic, and doesn't make you forget that there is someone playing the other end spot opposite Terrell Suggs. Kurt Wallin actually woke up for this game and looked great in the beginning of the game, but was pretty much invisible after that.
It is hard to determine whether ASU's defense is hampered by the 4-2-5 package, the Defensive Coordinator, or the lack of personnel to play the package. One thing is for sure: something needs to change. Willie Daniel, and Al Williams, two cornerstones of the defense for the last two years have been practically ineffective all season. Great players don't just go bad overnight. Those two stalwarts are being completely misused. On the other hand, free safety Jason Shivers is looking very good for a true freshman, and figures to be a key player by the end of the year. The safeties are not the only players out of sync. Butkus award candidate Solomon Bates has had a less than stellar season. Part of the problem is he isn't anywhere near as quick with his size now. But he too was a very good player for this team last year, so the new scheme and his effectiveness in it, comes into question as well. Josh Amobi should be getting more playing time, as he can flat out fly to the ball. The only players on defense who seem to be playing well are Terrell Suggs, Jimmy Verdon, and Mason Unck.
Investing any more time in Matt Cooper makes little sense. The guy is a proven failure in game time situations. To top it off, seeing him laugh while getting his butt kicked, was the most detestable sight to Devil fans who were still watching this debacle. Cooper will be a senior next year, and surely can't surpass Jeff Krohn as the starter so giving him more playing time doesn't make a great amount of sense. ASU has two young qb's that need to play if Krohn can't. If Chad Christensen is going to save his redshirt year than Cooper should at least be 3rd string. Getting a solid backup in this program is a must, because whether it is a freak accident against USC or not, Jeff Krohn is going to get injuries throughout his career.
With Krohn at the helm, this game might have been different. It certainly wouldn't have been as bad. That being said, ASU is going to really struggle this year against a solid Pac Ten conference. At this point it looks like ASU needs to have the mindset that this season will be a transition year. The players who factor into the future, and fit the mold of what the new coaches like should start getting more minutes. Great senior players should not be slighted, but they shouldn't get all of the minutes either. Players who need to see the field more: Mike Williams, Connor Banks, Zach Mims, Josh Amobi, Michael Holloway, Andrew Walter, Drew Hodgon, Adrian Ayala, Jimmy Verdon, James Beal.
Some players may have mailed in the season already, but the young players should get the necessary experience and the vital game-time exposure. The future of this season may seem bleak, but in years to come there's a good chance the Sun Devil faithful will look at the 2001 season as the painful but necessary induction year to a flourishing Koetter era.
USC Post-Game Report
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