Sunday, September 21, 2008

"We have no identity."

How discouraging is that title? Straight from the mouth of Troy Nolan last night.

But did anyone really think Arizona State actually had a chance yesterday after what you see to the left?

Knowshon Moreno flew. He literally grew wings and flew from the five yard line and into the end zone.

And after that, ASU had nothing. Literally nothing. And it led to a 27-10 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs that many thought seemed inevitable but still left us all with a pretty bitter taste in our mouths.

It was bitter because, for the second straight week, the Devils made all the same mistakes.

Omar Bolden once again looked lost and overmatched against Mohammad Massaquoi and A.J. Green. Troy Nolan could not make a tackle to save his life. Rudy Carpenter's timing was off again and, for the first time in a while, ASU's wide receivers dropped tons of catchable balls. The Devils still couldn't run the ball but still tried to time after time.

That's just an overview. Taking a look more in-depth...

-I don't know what's going on with the special teams, but I can't remember the last time ASU had kicks blocked in consecutive games. For the 2nd straight game, a gunner was allowed to run unblocked toward Thomas Weber and get a hand on a kick, this time a blocked punt that luckily for the Devils only resulted in a missed field goal. However, these blockers on special teams need to get their minds right. The nation's best kicker can't do his thing if you're not protecting him and there have been two horrific errors in two weeks.

-It's like beating a dead horse, but it has to be pointed out again: Arizona State has no running game without Keegan Herring. I don't know how much of a legitimate difference having Herring in the backfield, however, it would have been at least somewhat significant. Anything would have been significant. If you haven't looked at the stats, ASU had it's worst rushing day since November 9, 2002. The Sun Devils rushed for 0.2 yards per carry. That's not a typo. TWO TENTHS OF A YARD PER CARRY. SEVEN INCHES PER CARRY (Thanks to the first commenter; blog writer was not a math major). The only word that comes to mind is "pathetic."

Dimitri Nance cannot be this team's every-down back anymore. Georgia's run defense was incredibly stifling and nothing should be taken away from their play, but even the most incompetent running game in the country would be able to rack up more than 4 yards on 19 carries. However, maybe ASU does have the most incompetent running game in the country.

-When a team commits 12 penalties for 104 yards, including three inexcusable penalties on defense that lead to a first down for the other team, you usually lose the game. Unfortunately, ASU only committed six penalties for 50 yards. Georgia HANDED ASU chances to get into this game in the first half with bonehead defensive penalties and the Devils could not capitalize. We all knew coming into this game that the Bulldogs had a penalty problem and that taking advantage of that would lead to success. It didn't happen.

Being opportunistic is a key when trying to beat a team that's clearly better than you. You have to take advantage of every little mistake that your opponents make and then jump on top of them when they do. That's how UNLV beat Arizona State last week. It's what ASU didn't do last night against Georgia. Two more examples:

A) ASU attempted and made a 49-yard field goal, but the Bulldogs get called for leaping and the Devils drive down to the red zone. They have to once again settle for a field goal.
B) After scoring a touchdown to make it 21-10 and putting together the most complete drive of the game, Georgia fumbled on the kickoff return. ASU couldn't jump on the ball and Georgia retained the football.

Those are errors that swung the football game. The Devils were not opportunistic throughout the entire game and by the 4th quarter, they looked like they were sleepwalking.

-Rennie Curran owned the Devils offense. There was no way for anyone on offense to get a hand on Curran all night and if seemed like he was in on every single tackle.

-Omar Bolden failed to learn from the mistakes he made against UNLV and had another game where he was burned by highly athletic wide receivers. Nance might not be the only Sun Devil going through a 2nd year slump.

-I don't even really need to get into how poorly Troy Nolan played. You all saw it.

All in all, this was disappointing. I think this stings more than a blowout loss. Georgia outsmarted ASU all over the field and the Devils were never able to capitalize when the Bulldogs slipped up just a bit. There was no aspect of this team that looked even decent or competent on the field at Sun Devil Stadium last night.

Maybe Troy Nolan is right. Maybe this team really doesn't have an identity.

They don't have a lot of time to find one.

Photo Credit:


mikeb said...

That's 7.2 inches (0.6 feet) per carry, not 6 feet.

We couldn't rush against UNLV, I'm not particularly shocked about not being able to rush against Georgia. I'm not convinced Herring would have made a huge difference in this game. They had linebackers waiting (easily read plays? no risk of tight end cross routes?) or even penetrating the line most of the time. I'd put far more blame on a weak offensive line than on Nance.

JMB1911 said...

Nance is only part of the problem. He ran like he had a piano on his back, but honestly the O-Line can't get a decent push and open holes for any of the backs. MikeB has it spot on; the O-Line owns 2/3, perhaps more, of the blame on this one. ASU has been figured out.

These next few weeks could be VERY tough if the O-Line can't step up and function like they should...and count me as a skeptic.