Defensive Domination Nets Victory Over Buffs

Boulder, Col. - The gusty winds blowing on Saturday at Folsom Stadium were symbolic of the winds of change that have descended on the Sun Devils this season. Last year it was unfathomable that an ASU defense could carry the team to victory in light of offensive struggles. Sure enough, that was the game story in a nut shell in ASU's 21-3 win over Colorado in front of 47,723 in Boulder.

"Tonight it's about the Sun Devil defense," said head coach Dirk Koetter following the game. "When you can hold any team on their field to three points, you're gonna win a lot of those games. My hats off to the Sun Devil D – they dominated tonight."

Colorado (0-0) drew first blood early in the first quarter. A fumble by Shaun DeWitty, was recovered by the Buffaloes, who weren't able to advance but five yards and had to settle for their only points on the night - a Mason Crosby 29-yard field goal. In the second quarter with the home team marching to ASU's (3-0) 3-yard line, Zach Catanese strips the ball from Bernard Jackson as he tries to dive into the end zone. The fumble was picked up by Josh Barrett and in effect ended Colorado's best chance of the night for a touchdown.

Jordan Hill's interception in the beginning of the third quarter nullified another impressive drive by the Buffs who marched all the way to the Sun Devils' 23-yard line. Later in the second half, two timely sacks on third down spoiled another couple of Colorado drives and capped off one of the best defensive performances by the maroon and gold in recent memory. Barrett led all defenders with eight total tackles.

So what about the offense? "We've been so great finishing drives in the end zone the last few years, and we were horrible at that tonight, " said Koetter. Much of statement was in reference to Rudy Carpenter's two interceptions deep in the home team's end of the field, coupled with another unfortunate Carpenter fumble that rolled and hit the pylon for a touchback. "Rudy is one of the best quarterbacks in the country," commented Koetter. "I'll always be harder on Rudy than any other player because I know how he can play. When we can win 21-3 on the road at a Big 12 school and not play our best on offense, because Rudy doesn't play his best, I think that says a lot about where we are at."

"We shot ourselves in the foot too much," said Carpenter. "Too many penalties…that's what we have to work on next week at practice. Pass game was real shaky and I take full responsibility for that…I'm just trying to make plays and win games. On the two interceptions I was trying to make plays, and it didn't work out. We'll get better as the season goes on." Carpenter did throw for two touchdowns as well, and was 21-37 for 248 yards. Tight End Zach Miller, who's late game touchdown catch, set a school record for TD receptions by a tight end, had 45 yards and paced his squad with five receptions.

Surprisingly, the maroon and gold rushing attack found success early and often against a run-stingy Colorado defense. ASU amassed 182 yards, mostly by Keegan Herring (nine carries and 82 yards) and Ryan Torain (18 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown). By halftime, the Sun Devils collected 128 yards on the ground and finished the contest with 182 yards.

Special teams were a bag of mixed goods for the maroon and gold. They did block a punt and Terry Richardson did collect 78 yards on five punt returns. On the other hand, Jesse Ainsworth missed a 49-yard field goal, and Jonathan Johnson, who punted for the first time late in the third quarter, averaged just 31 yards on three punts.

"We'll see how good we are next week when we play Cal," remarked Carpenter. "That one is gonna be a big one for us." Some may see that this road contest is the proverbial swing game of the season. Time will tell on that. In the meantime, the Sun Devils are undefeated, likely ranked in the nation's Top 20, and while not being perfect on both sides on the ball, is showing that it can win without its juggernaut offense having a typical day at the office.

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