Defensive Domination Helps ASU Squeak by Oregon St

"An ugly win is better than a pretty loss." This phrase and those alike are likely to be uttered anytime a Sun Devil team member is asked to recap the 13-9 victory over the Beavers. In a results oriented profession such as College Football, victories are welcomed in any shape or form. It was another masterful performance by the ASU defenders who assured the team an overall 5-2 record, and most importantly help the squad remain unbeaten in the Pac-10.

Let's get the unpleasant out of the way. ASU's offense was for the most part abysmal, especially compared to the last few weeks. The 55 yards rushing were a reminder that this offensive aspect is still sputtering, and the 186 yards passing are a figure rarely seen in Dirk Koetter's offense. Quarterback Andrew Walter was 14-34 with a couple of interceptions. However his lone touchdown pass to running back Hakim Hill, was all the offense needed in this nip and tuck affair. Hill eclipsed the century mark again in total yards, amassing 120. Wide receiver Shaun McDonald had an uncharacteristic quiet night with 53 yards on only four catches. Overall, this was a dull offensive output that luckily was good enough to beat the visitors from Corvallis.

As lethargic as the offense was, that's how spectacular the defense played. Coach Brent Guy's unit limited Oregon State to 233 yards of offense, including a remarkable nine yards rushing. The seven sacks and three interceptions were other accomplishments indicative of the utter supremacy displayed by this group who gave up only three field goals. It would be extremely hard to single out two or three players, since this was as pure of a team effort as seen in quite a while. Defensive end Jimmy Verdon and safety Jason Shivers had seven total tackles each to lead ASU. Verdon had two sacks; while Shivers had one forced fumble and three pass breakups. Safety Al Williams added two sacks of his own, and Linebacker Josh Amobi had three tackles for a loss including a sack. The senior also recorded a fumble recovery (he came in as the Pac-10 leader in that category) and one interception. In a night where the offense was ailing, the defensive showing on Saturday night was exactly what the doctor had ordered.

On special teams all eyes were on kicker Mike Barth. After missing all four of his field goal attempts last week, the senior bounced back and made two field goals of 50 and 46 yards, which in the end negated his one missed field and the other attempt which was blocked. The player of the game honors in this unit goes without question to punter Tim Parker. The junior had a super pub 46 yards average per punt, and four of his eight punts were inside the 20-yard line. Hill managed to have 60 yards in kick off returns, averaging 15 yards a return, while wide receiver Daryl Lightfoot had a meager three yards on two punt returns. Nonetheless, on the whole ASU's special teams aided the defense in securing this precious conference win.

If the loss against North Carolina was one where the stars seemed to be aligned against a Sun Devil victory, the win over Oregon State is quite the opposite. One only has to look at the last Beaver drive to end the game. With about 25 seconds left and no time outs, the Oregon St. offense, which was on the Sun Devils' 34-yard line, managed to run out the clock by simply trying to lineup to the ball in one last attempt at winning the game. Clearly, the Devils' offensive performance was more than negated by the defense and special teams' one. However, if ASU has any aspirations of beating Oregon on the road next week, they'd better hope that the offensive display tonight was an aberration, and the defensive exhibition was anything but abnormal. Tonight, an ugly win may have been somewhat troublesome for the maroon and gold faithful, but it would be a welcomed sight in Eugene…

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