The 2009 season for the Sun Devils has been a collection of reoccurring themes. Dropped passes, numerous penalties, overall inconsistency, and weak first half performances have all culminated into a 4-4 record for quarterback Danny Sullivan and the Arizona State football team. "We're just not consistent," Sullivan commented about his offensive unit. "We're digging ourselves in a hole to start the game let alone. Leaving ourselves in tougher third down situations, 3rd and 9 to 11 and that's hard. We do fine when we're getting manageable third downs but lately we haven't been doing that."
This aforementioned trend undoubtedly poses a problem for a team that already struggles to move the chains. Both sides of the Sun Devil football team seem to find their groove in the second half, which frequently tends to be too little, too late.
"I think it's just adjusting," the senior quarterback said. "I mean you have to make your halftime adjustments and we've done that pretty well for the last three years, now it's just a matter of the players adjusting to what we have to do in the first half. Going down 14-0, we can't be doing that anymore and that lies on my shoulders, we have to get ourselves in a better situation to maintain throughout the game."
The maroon and gold have accumulated 74 penalties and 714 yards in eight games this year, leaving ASU listed third on the national charts for the most penalties in college football. Without putting an end to the discrepancies, the Sun Devils will only make it tougher for themselves the remainder of the 2009 campaign.
"Penalties are frustrating no matter what but especially when you're getting so many yards given to them; it's frustrating that's for sure," Sullivan said. "We have to find a way to limit them, a little bit. Who knows how many yards in the end that could have cost us? In a two-point game you wonder, what would have happened if this didn't take place? We have to make sure we're staying focused, don't worry about the penalties and just go out and play."
Attempting to look past another narrow loss against Cal, Danny Sullivan and his team will prepare this week for another Pac-10 powerhouse. Pete Carroll and the Trojans will travel to Tempe this Saturday, and after a disappointing loss, we can only except to see a fired up USC.
"I think they're going to be fired up and ready to go," Sullivan noted. "They have struggled the last couple games trying to stop teams and I think they're going to have a way different mentality then they had especially after the game against Oregon. Coach Carroll is going to do a good job of getting those guys ready and getting them back to where they want to be."
Last year against the Trojans was the first considerable amount of time Sullivan took the field as a Sun Devil. Sullivan played throughout most of the second half, completing 4 of 17 passes for 28 yards. Next Saturday, Sullivan and his offense will have the opportunity to take on the Trojans at home, and Sullivan will likely be able to control the game from start to finish.
"Last year is last year, this is a new season and I don't even focus on that," Sullivan claimed. "Since you brought that up, I didn't even remember it. We have to find a way to get back on a winning track right now, we came so close on Saturday and we've had a couple close games this year so we have to find a way to win one of those close games."
USC, an elite college football program will be no easy task for the Sun Devils. The USC defense has athletes that will challenge the Sun Devils from start to finish, starting with safety, Taylor Mays.
"They're good, there is no hiding it, they are USC," Sullivan said. "Taylor Mays is a great player, he is fast, he his physical. Both of their cornerbacks are pretty good. Everson Griffen is a beast on the end. They have the guys to do it; it's just going to be a matter of us keeping focused on what we have to do and trying to stop them."
Collectively the Sun Devils have been through some disheartening losses, mixed in with uplifting defeats. ASU hopes to bounce back from last week's loss and as they face probably their strongest opponent to date this season. "You know, the loss stung a little bit," Sullivan noted. "But, we came in yesterday and we had a positive attitude about what we're trying to do. I think it's pretty much behind us now, we're looking forward to this weekend, and it's a big game. There is no hiding that it's USC so we have to get ready to go and get this win."