Cougars Clobber Devils

Just like two weeks ago, ASU found itself down three touchdowns (and more) on the road in a hostile environment. However, unlike the Oregon game there would be no miracle comebacks by Andrew Walter and co. Today in Pullman, Washington State doubled up on the visitors from Tempe 44-22.

The 365 yards ASU gained on offense have never been more deceiving. Even though this side of the ball was only out gained by 20 yards, it failed in comparison to the Cougars' effectiveness. Washington State's defensive line repeatedly annihilated the Devils' offensive line. As a result Andrew Walter was sacked six times, picked off twice, and despite 60% completion and 328 yards, looked out of synch all afternoon. The beneficiary of his two touchdown passes was an unlikely target – tight end Mike Pinkard. The senior led all ASU receivers with 87 yards on four catches. Nevertheless, he dropped some key passes that practically negate his best game as a Sun Devil. Other notable players in the passing game were Shaun McDonald with 78 yards, and Daryl Lightfoot with 64. Surprisingly enough, during this bitter loss the ASU running game looked better than it had in weeks. Not taking the sacks into account, the Sun Devils had 103 yards on eth ground. Leading in this effort was Cornell Canidate with 64 yards.

When a team gives up 44 points it would be easy to label the defense's play as disastrous. Nonetheless, a closer look at what transpired during the game, would reveal that the offense did more than its fair share of turning the ball over, and pinning the defense deep in it own end of the field. On the other hand, the pass rush on Jason Gesser greatly failed in comparison to that of the host team. The usual suspects led ASU in tackles: Riccardo Stewart had eight tackles, and Mason Unck had seven. Shane Jones had his best game in the maroon and gold with six tackles. Terrell Suggs was neutralized for most of the game, but his lone sack put him as the NCAA all-time leader in sacks with 18.5

The Sun Devils' special teams didn't have one of its best days in this losing affair. The ever-reliant Tim Parker averaged only 34 yards on five punts. With the outpouring of offense by Washington State, Hakim Hill had nine opportunities for kick returns. He amassed 162 yards, which translate to 18 yards a return and helped the offense gain solid field position. Ironically, penalties didn't hurt Dirk Koetter's team in its first Pac-10 loss. ASU, statically is one of the Pac-10 leaders in penalty yards, had a mere 38 yards.

There's no denying that the Devils played poorly and deserved to lose. The loss today in Pullman may unfairly cast a dark shadow on what has so far been a successful and surprising 2002 campaign. ASU can prove this defeat was nothing more than an aberration when it hosts a solid Cal team in Tempe this coming Saturday. This is a point of the season where the Sun Devils must demonstrate that the loss to Washington State won't start an uncontrollable tailspin for the last three games of the season. Time for another comeback…

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