ASU drops Pac-10 opener to Oregon State

It's been a long 40 years since Oregon State beat ASU on the road, but it took the Beavers just eight and half minutes in the first quarter to jump to a 14-0 lead against the Sun Devils. The maroon and gold could never dig themselves out of that deficit as they eventually drop their Pac-10 opener 28-17.

"Early in the game, for whatever reason, we weren't ready to play," said Arizona State Head Coach Dennis Erickson. "We didn't come out and play like I thought we would play. I thought we were going to come out on defense and play better than we did and we didn't do that.

"We you turn it over three times, you dropped a snap, you fumble going in, then you throw an interception…three turnovers in the first half. Offensively for us to come back like that is very very difficult."

In its first possession, not only did the Sun Devils (2-2, 0-1 pac-10) go three and out but punter Trevor Hankins bobbled the snap and was tackled on ASU's 18-yard line. As a result, Jacquizz Rodgers scored one of his two first quarter touchdowns with a one-yard scamper. Another three and out by the maroon and gold was answered by another Rodgers score, a 32-yard run that put Oregon State (3-2, 1-1) ahead by two touchdowns.

Oregon State added a score before the half while the Sun Devils just managed a field goal as they trailed 21-3 after 30 minutes. An interception by Danny Sullivan and fumble deep in Oregon State territory by Ryan Bass halted two drives that potentially could have cut the Beaver lead in the first half.

The ASU quarterback had a rough outing in the first half going 11-24 for 123 yards, and while he played a better second half and ended the game 32-58 for 338 yards and a touchdown, the senior was able to only engineer just two scoring drives in the second half, in the beginning and the end of the period, which were ultimately not open conference play with a victory.

"I kept (Sullivan) in there in the 4th quarter because I felt he deserved to be in there," Erickson stated. "He didn't play his best but a lot of other guys didn't either.

"It's not all on Danny. We all got to play better."

The Sun Devil skipper heard the crowd's calls to replace Sullivan with true freshman Brock Osweiler, and remarked that criticism of the quarterback is just something that signal callers are accustomed to when playing that position. Erickson stated that he isn't worried about the team losing faith in Sullivan at this juncture.

"I think it's a little too early for that," Erickson said. "This is just our fourth game and we have a lot of games left so I don't see that. Everybody on our team better look at themselves first before they look at somebody else. Don't worry about how somebody else played."

Erickson said that he didn't consider halftime changes at quarterback and the touchdown scored in the beginning of the third quarter only supported that notion. While he stated that the quarterback position will be evaluated after watching today's game film he did anticipate Sullivan remaining as the starter for the next contest, a road game at Washington State.

Erickson mentioned that the limited availability of wide receiver Kyle Williams today affected the offense's ability for big plays, and affected playing the four wide receiver sets he planned on showcasing against the Beavers. Having said that, Erickson commented that they are many players on that side of the ball capable of providing the offense with the needed explosiveness.

"When the game was in touch," Erickson recalled, "We had opportunities going down in there and we didn't make a throw, we didn't make a catch or whatever the case may be there in the third quarter. We just couldn't make a play. Couldn't get it in the end zone."

Oregon State's cover-two defense took away the passing game's middle of the field, and Erickson said that the plays designed to combat that scheme and go outside weren't executed and naturally hampered the offense.

"We fell behind and we got away from our run game a little bit,' Erickson noted. "We weren't running the ball too bad, but we fell behind and ended up throwing the ball more than we wanted to. For us to win games we have to run it."

The highly touted ASU defense had a dismal first half, but redeemed themselves in the second stanza limiting the visitors to just seven points.

"We didn't play like we were playing," Erickson acknowledged. "They made some big plays on us. They ran the football…we were undisciplined. We had some penalties (ten for 80 yards) we normally haven't had.

"We didn't play with the enthusiasm and the fire we play on defense. If you're not ready to play, you get behind the eight-ball and get beat and that's exactly what happened today. I give Oregon State credit. They came out and did what they had to do to win."

Erickson said that he didn't see any signs during preparation week that would indicate his team would come out flat on Saturday. On the other hand, he said that it's usually hard to forsee something like that coming to begin with.

"If you do (see the warning signs) it's pretty hard to turn it around," Erickson explained. "They have to do that themselves. That's up to them. You can say whatever you want, scream and yell, but they have to get ready themselves as team and for some reason we weren't ready.

"It's very frustrating for us coaches, players and fans to come out and play like this."


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