Offense, defense falls short in 4th quarter

It comes to no surprise that another Arizona State football game came down to the offense's inability to gain enough yards to secure a crucial first down, leaving Saturday's game in the hands of the defense. After an overall successful day for this group, Danny Sullivan and the offense we're unable to help their counterpart, resulting in a 23-21 loss to the California Golden Bears.

Senior captain and starting linebacker, Mike Nixon, attributes the defeat at Sun Devil Stadium to the defense letting down their team.

"Three minutes left, I think they had to go about seventy or eighty yards and as a defense you obviously want that situation," Nixon stated concerning the last scoring drive by Cal. "You know it's on us to win the game and just by what happened earlier in the game, there are three minutes left and I really feel as a defense we let this team down tonight."

Without the assertive defensive unit, it is reasonable to question what the Sun Devils would have to offer this season. A truly ineffective offense has been unable to find the rhythm necessary to prevail over their Pac-10 opponents. Their inability to move the ball down the field ultimately brought a 21-20 lead to a screeching halt in the end of the fourth quarter. California used the clock to their advantage to secure a 23-21 win.

"It kind of spoils the rest of the afternoon, I guess," Nixon admitted. "In the end it's all about winning, no matter how good you play, you have a chance to win it and it's on you to win it and you don't, you have to look yourself in the mirror first and foremost and that's what we'll do as a defense."

Penalties have been a reoccurring theme the Coach Erickson and his squad. The team has accumulated numerous penalties throughout the season, adding even more strain to the struggling group. The Sun Devils allotted the Golden Bears a total of 123 yards due to frivolous penalties.

"I don't think there is any one reason," Nixon commented regarding the reason for unnecessary penalties. "The roughing the kicker, we had a guy going all out, two guys going all out and one bumped into the other one and that's kind of bad luck. I think we had just, I don't know, one personal foul maybe, I shouldn't say only one personal foul, but penalties are going to happen if guys are playing hard. It's the unsportsmanlike that we try to eliminate and I think we're getting better with that."

Fully prepared to face Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen, Cal's most talented running backs, Nixon and his teammates were able to limit Cal's rushing to a total of 83 yards, despite the visitors employing many direct snaps to their tailbacks.

"Yeah we'd seen it in just about every game they've ran it expect for the UCLA game," Nixon said. "The coaches had a pretty good game plan in preparing us for that and I think we limited them somewhat with what they wanted to do."

The Sun Devils will now focus their attention of the USC Trojans who will take the field at Sun Devils Stadium next Saturday. The Sun Devils will need to find the strength and willpower to matchup against a talented Matt Barkley and his team with hopes to upset the Trojans and increase their chances of becoming bowl eligible. This week the team will need to prepare both physically and mentally, hopefully finding a way to prove their resiliency.

"I don't think I'll have to say anything to get up for SC," Nixon noted about what he will need to do to mentally prepare his team. "We all know what they're capable of and what they've done the past eight, ten years. Half of our team is from L.A. so I don't think it should be a problem next week."

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