Notes From The Press Box - ASU

During Washington's 33-31 incredible victory, Joe and Dawn were up in the press box and sometimes down on the field taking in the sights and sounds of Sun Devil Stadium and watching the Huskies improve in some areas but perhaps still in need of some improvement in others. Here's our take.


The Good:

Gilby returns: Offensive Coordinator Keith Gilbertson made the trip to Tempe, just three days after having an angiogram procedure done to check for blockage in his arteries. The tests came back okay, and doctors gave him permission to make the flight down to the desert and take part in the game. His role as offensive coordinator was reduced a bit for the game - quarterbacks coach Steve Axman took over much of the responsibilities - but Gilbertson remained by Axman's side and helped strategize. Gilby says he feels great and is relieved that the worry is behind him. Those two came up with a gem in the desert last night.

Inspired beginning: Nearly 15 minutes before kickoff Paul Arnold was on one knee in the back corner of the north end zone saying a prayer to himself, his head bowed and his focus on The Man upstairs. It was a moving display from the third-year player from Kennedy High School. His play was inspirational as well as Cody Pickett went to him successfully seven times in the first half.

Finally heard the starting gun?: The Huskies have had a history of slow starts over the past two seasons, but that wasn't the case against the Sun Devils last night. Prior to the game, the entire team huddled in the corner of the end zone and senior Jamaun Willis led the cheer, "Who's House? Dawgs' House!" Once the game began the team played hard and well composed, sparking the Dawgs to an early 17-0 lead. The lead didn't last, but it's hard to doubt the effort and energy the guys in purple put forth in this game.

20-20 Vision: Husky receiver Paul Arnold wears # 20. Emmanuel Franklin, a redshirt-freshman cornerback for the Sun Devils, wears the same number. The Huskies must have seen a mismatch there in the game films, because they led their offense through Arnold for the entire first half. The junior receiver was thrown to five times in the game's first drive and he made seven receptions in the first 30 minutes. ASU made defensive adjustments in the second half and PA didn't get another catch, but his play early was key to the Huskies success. He had 94 yards receiving for the game.

Running scared? Nope: The rushing attack got back on track today, keyed by marked improvement on the offensive line and elusive up-field running by Willie Hurst. The Huskies benefited from an effective passing game early and were able to catch ASU off guard whenever they ran the ball for the rest of the game. Washington's offensive front got better push off the line to give Hurst room to run through the tackles, and the senior from Compton, California did the rest. He finished with a career-high 185 yards on the ground and never had a rush for negative yardage. When the Huskies got the ball back down one with 7:12 remaining in the game, it was the ground game that allowed them to eat up the clock and get in the red zone for the game-winning score.

Road warriors: There was a large contingent of purple in the crowd at Sun Devil Stadium, a credit to the loyalty of Husky fans. The Washington faithful were in two sections in the upper tier on the north end of the stadium, and they came to cheer. Twice in the window-enclosed pressbox above Sun Devil Stadium, where the crowd noise is piped in through speakers, the loud chants of "GO-HUSKIES" were louder than anything the home fans brought with them.

Desert delight: The Phoenix area was absolutely hopping this weekend. Along with the UW-ASU game, there was game one of the Yankee-Diamondback World Series, a Phoenix Coyote hockey game, and NASCAR race in town. At Sun Devil Stadium, the World Series was showing up on the big screen two hours before the game and the crowd of Diamondback fans were into it with every pitch. It was the perfect place to be for a sports fan.
The Bad:

Children of the cornflour: Although it's tradition in Tempe, the ASU student section was up to no good for the entire first half. On nearly every play they flung tortillas onto the field, causing a group of people to cleanup after them. It got so ridiculous that players on both teams had to pick up the tortillas and throw them off the field while in the huddle.

Corners rounded: After playing respectably in the first half, limiting ASU to 113 passing yards, the Husky cornerbacks got torched in the second half by the torrid throwing of Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Krohn. The sophomore quarterback threw for 207 yards after halftime to get to 320 overall for the game. It's a credit to Krohn, however, who threw his passes with more precision than any other opposing quarterback in recent memory. Rick Neuheisel said that during the game he told his cornerbacks not to hang their heads in shame because Krohn was simply making perfect passes to beat them. But with that said, had John Anderson made the field goal with 51 seconds remaining (and ASU not jumped offsides), it would have been hard to imagine stopping Krohn's aerial attack.

Not getting their kicks on Route 66: For the third time this season the Huskies had a punt blocked, this one resulting in another safety. That simply cannot happen. While punter Derek McLaughlin's leg has proven to be an improvement over anything in previous years, it's come at a price. The punt block by ASU helped shift momentum in their favor, got the crowd into the game, and nearly cost the Huskies the game when it was all said and done. With four tough games remaining on the schedule, this type of mistake must be eliminated.

Pick up the Pace: The Huskies blew a golden opportunity to stall a Sun Devil drive early in the fourth quarter when they were ahead 24-10. Ben Mahdavi sacked Jeff Krohn on second and nine, setting up a third down and 20 play. On third down, ASU lined up with running back Tom Pace at quarterback and the Huskies didn't seem to notice. The powerful senior took the snap and ran to the left side of the line getting two key blocks en route to a 23-yard gain. Letting a team rush for a first down when it's third and 20 just shouldn't happen.

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