Washington's fans are stunned as well, but mostly at their team's inability to run the ball. "We are woeful" said Rick Neuheisel in describing the nonexistent rushing attack that Washington displayed on Saturday. Their MINUS 5 yards on the ground spoke volumes.
No one seems to have the answers and Rick Neuheisel contines to tell Husky fans, "We'll keep working."
Washington's other glaring weakness, defending the pass, plays right into the hands of ASU's Andrew Walter, who passed for a school record 536 yards against a Duck secondary that looked lost and confused.
ASU receiver Shaun McDonald went for over 200 yards last week and consistently blistered the Oregon cornerbacks. He'll take square aim on Derrick Johnson, Nate Robinson, and Sam Cunningham, who had trouble with USC's Michael Williams and Keary Colbert. With Roc Alexander out for the season, both Trojans topped the 140-yard receiving mark against the young Husky corners last Saturday.
"We're in crisis," said Coach Neuheisel, who called for "a complete introspection of our football team. Tough times don't last, but tough people do."
You want tough? You got it, coach. ASU is hotter than a pistol, but Washington has faired pretty well in the desert. Saturday evening will tell just how far the Huskies took their soul searching this week.
| Arizona State|
RUSHING: Cornell Canidate 104-408-7 TD (3.9), Mike Williams 54-246-3 TD (4.6), Hakim Hill 63-182-3 TD (2.9)
PASSING: Andrew Walter 119-214-7 (.556), 2003 yards, 17 TDs
RECEIVING: Shaun McDonald 55-941-9 TD (17.1), Daryl Lightfoot 18-242-1 TD (13.4), Derek Hagan 18-240-0 TD (13.3)
Coach Koetter acts as his own offensive coordinator. Like USC a week ago, it's a three-headed tailback situation. Unlike USC, these three are young (Cornell Canidate and Hakim Hill are freshmen, Mike Williams is a sophomore). Canidate has led the team in rushing in every game, however.
Andrew Walter has two 400-plus yard efforts to go with his 500-plus yarder against the Ducks. He won the job late in the fall, and promptly launched himself towards the ASU record book. His 888 yards in back-to-back games (414 against Stanford, 474 against North Carolina) is an all-time Sun Devil record. His QB rating is at the same level as Cody Pickett.
Shaun McDonald had a career-best 221-yard day against Stanford and had 203 against the Ducks. He burned Washington last year for 194 yards and a score. McDonald ranks fifth on ASU's all-time yardage list and will give the Huskies fits all evening.
TACKLES/TFL: Mason Unck 64/8.5, Jason Shivers 67/0.5, Riccardo Stewart 56/8.0
PASSES DEF/INT: R.J. Oliver 14/4, Jason Shivers 8/0, Mike Davis 5/1
SACKS: Terrell Suggs 13.0, Jimmy Verdon 3.0, Riccardo Stewart 3.0
ASU hadn't allowed a rushing TD in 11 quarters before playing Oregon, and have forced game (if no rushing TD allowed, then use it, for that will be 15 quarters). They've also forced 26 turnovers this season, so these guys know how to get the ball and give it to their offense.
Although Terrell Suggs was accounted for by Oregon, he'll give Washington a very difficult time. It's hard to imagine he'll go two games in a row without a sack. Jimmy Verdon is also very capable of getting in and dropping Pickett.
Josh Amobi was the player-of-the-week in the PAC-10 for his Beaver trifecta – he intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble and on the game's final play he sacked Derek Anderson.
Suggs is a legitimate Lombardi candidate. He is the NCAA leader in both sacks (13) and tackles-for-loss (16.5). He has a good shot at the all-time PAC-10 sack record of 19 held by Teddy Bruschi (UofA) and Tim Ryan (USC), although Washington has done a nice job of protecting Pickett. However for each week the offense cannot run the ball, the likelihood of Pickett getting sacked goes up.
One defensive back that knows how to look for the ball is R.J. Oliver, who has a remarkable 17 passes defended.
Mason Unck hits like Dave Hoffmann – he leads the conference in fumbles forced. Riccardo Stewart is third in the PAC-10 in tackles-per-game from the three-pronged safety spot in ASU's unique 4-2-5 alignment.
ASU SPECIAL TEAMS
PLACEKICKING: Mike Barth 12-20 FG (long 50), 33-33 XP
PUNTING: Tim Parker 47-42.4 (long 63)
KICK RETURNS: Hakim Hill 20-23.0 (long 55), Daryl Lightfoot 4-28.2 (long 41)
PUNT RETURNS: Daryl Lightfoot 14-7.7 (long 31), Hakim Hill 11-10.4 (long 25)
Mike Barth hit a 50-yarder against Oregon State – the longest ASU field goal in nine years. ASU's kickoff return and coverage teams both rank second in the PAC-10. Hakim Hill has been close to breaking several, and is fourth in the conference in kick returning. Hill became the first Sun Devil ever to be named the PAC-10's Special Teams POW for his 157 kick-return yards against Central Florida.
The Sun Devils have blocked two punts, one went for a 60-yard score.
KIBBLES AND BITS In an oddity, Terrell Suggs can break the NCAA mark for season sacks before he breaks the PAC-10 conference mark. The NCAA didn't record sacks as an official statistic until 2000, so the mark is held by Syracuse's Dwight Freeney with 17.5. The PAC-10 has been keeping the statistic since 1984; hence the conference record of 19 . . . Nate Robinson remains the only Husky to forego the redshirt. In contrast, ASU have burned eight this year. The Sun Devils have also played 12 RS-freshmen . . .
Rick Samek can be reached at RSAMEK1@ATTBI.COM . . .