Sunday, September 9, 2007

Colorado Game Recap

First of all, before I go on with my thoughts on the ASU/Colorado game last night, I can't help but post this:

TUCSON, Ariz. - Police used a stun gun twice on a University of Arizona student who became combative after he was turned away from the first home football game of the season.UA officials said they oversold the student section of Saturday night's game between the Wildcats and Northern Arizona University by 1,000 seats. About 400 students who had been turned away had gathered near the student entrance.

Fantastic. Way to stay classy, Tucson. Read the rest of the article here.

Back to reality though, and that reality is a 33-14 win by the Sun Devils riddled with dumb penalties. I walked away from the stadium last night happy with the victory but pretty subdued compared to the usual good feelings surrounding a Sun Devil victory.

Maybe it was the pick-six on the third play of the game. Maybe it was the offenses inability to move the football throughout the first quarter. Maybe it was the turnover that led to Colorado going up 14-0 and sending the 58,417 at Sun Devil Stadium into a state of nervousness.
Or maybe it was the fact that Arizona State fell back into their old doldrums of taking stupid and unnecessary penalties.

After the pick-six by Terrence Wheatley, Tyrice Thompson took a personal foul (late hit) penalty. A few minutes later, after a poor offensive drive by ASU, punter Jonathan Johnson came in for a hit on the return man about five seconds late, taking a late hit penalty of his own. Rudy Burgess, of the "play 'till the whistle philosophy," once again played 'till the whistle and clocked a Colorado punt returner late in the 4th quarter. And it repeated four other times. The Devils ended the game with 12 penalties for 136 yards lost, seven of them being personal fouls.

There were many bright spots, however; Arizona State did win the game, you see. From the 2nd quarter on, Rudy Carpenter looked sharp (for more on Carpenter's performance, look out for this week's Karp on Carp column later this week).

Of course, his receivers made him look awesome. Mike Jones made a few great catches, including two more touchdowns. Kyle Williams made what could turn out to be the catch of the year to give the Sun Devils a lead they would not relinquish right before halftime. With Chris McGaha open on the left side of the end zone, Carpenter let fly a pass into triple coverage. At that point, it looked like not if the pass would be picked off, but which white shirt would end up with the interception. Out of nowhere though, Williams stuck his hands out and snagged a great ball to give the Devils 19-14 lead.

Written on an eye-black patch under Jones' left eye was the word "respect," but after the game he mentioned that he'll wait until ASU is "13-0" before accepting any due respect. I'll say, however, that Jones game has stepped up tremendously during the first two games of the 2007 season and has become the offense's most consistent and reliable receiver.

Cody Hawkins looked demoralized after seeing his receivers drop passes all night; clearly something he wasn't used to during that 60-game personal winning streak. His first play from scrimmage was a dropped pass that was sure to be a touchdown. Later on, with a chance to regain the lead before going into the half, a receiver dropped another sure score. The Buffaloes offense looked inept, the running game looked stagnant without Hugh Charles and the receiving corps didn't go out of their way to make Hawkins look especially solid in the team's first true road test of the season.

In the end, the Sun Devils swept this home-and-home with their Big 12 opponent, outscoring the Buffaloes 54-17 over the two games and limiting them to just over 400 yards of offense. This team cannot come out with the false confidence against San Diego State next weekend, however, or Devil fans might be facing another early deficit to sweat out.

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