You knew something wasn't right in the first minute of the game. Rudy Burgess had a short return on the opening kickoff deep in the end zone when he probably shouldn't have returned it. You thought that was okay and it was a case of the opening jitters.
Next up came the Arizona State offense and Senior QB Andrew Walter. The
offense got flagged right away for a false start (the first of two in this series) and right there you knew this game was not going the Sun Devils' way.
The abysmal 45-7 loss to the Trojans came as a bit of a surprise when most
had the Sun Devils pegged as at least being a formidable competitor in this
contest. Maybe the Sun Devils wouldn't come away victorious against the #1 team but at least they would make the Trojans earn it like they did against Stanford and California. Instead, this game was lost before it even began.
This ASU team is better than what they displayed today. However, Dirk Koetter
and staff were utterly out coached. That is quite an indictment considering
this team had two weeks to prepare for USC and had some fresh legs under them.
USC Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow devised a fantastic game plan. It simply
didn't matter at all that their #1 WR Steve Smith was out. Chow kept the
vaunted Arizona State defense on it's heels and off balance all afternoon long.
On offense, ASU couldn't really get any momentum going. This was the same
offense that looked unfazed by the raucous noise in Eugene two weeks ago against the Ducks. QB Andrew Walter looked out of his element and scared at times. He threw into triple coverage in the first half, trying to force a ball to WR Derek Hagan that resulted in USC LB Matt Grootegoed intercepting the ball. The OL got beat off the line all game long and allowed seven sacks.
Give the Trojans credit. They came ready to play first and foremost and
didn't get caught up in any hoopla after the pivotal Cal win last week. USC QB Matt Leinart looked worthy of Heisman consideration and was in full command of the Trojan offense. Leinart finished the day with 224 yards and threw for 4 TD's. He also had a QB keeper that notched a TD score for himself. Andrew Walter countered with 181 yards and 2 INTs. This game can easily be counted as one of Walter's worst in his ASU career.
The stat sheet can be tossed after this stinker. It doesn't matter how many
tackles Dale Robinson recorded or how many catches Derek Hagan got. It wasn't
all on Andrew Walter either. This was a team loss and it begins at the top. The Sun Devils were unprepared and that is unacceptable. This was a big game and ASU laid a big egg. Maybe it was the fans hyping this game up too much. Maybe it was the local media as well. But one thing is for sure, ASU blew a
precious opportunity to put the program in adoring eyes outside of Arizona even if the final score was in USC's favor. It was important for ASU to have a good showing. The Sun Devils didn't even show up though. It was another squandered opportunity to prove the program had turned a corner.
"We didn't get tricked today, we got outplayed," said ASU's head coach Dirk Koetter.. "If you look at the game, we got off to a horrendous start from a field position standpoint. We couldn't get anything going and when we got down 21-0, we couldn't answer the bell. At that point, I think a little doubt creeped in and you can't do that against a team like USC.."
Coach Koetter must now turn his attention to the UCLA Bruins and
avoid a letdown by his players. This game may turn into a catalyst for a lost
season if focus isn't restored. What team will show up in a week? A team hungry to prove themselves or a team that gave up after the USC debacle? This UCLA game may be the biggest in Koetter's tenure now because the season can easily slip away after a blow like this.
Trojans Trounce Devils 45-7
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