Sunday, October 5, 2008

Another Perfect Storm

As a journalist, I feel like I should always have the answer. I know that many of you come to this blog and go to other sources for different points of view on ASU football and I hope that you enjoy what we bring you.

But after three straight games of this, I'm almost out of words.

How do you describe another woeful offensive effort when it's the same thing in three straight games? How do you describe the inability to get a consistent pass rush when it's the same thing in three straight games?

How can you explain another 60 minutes of terrible play calling, terrible execution and another terrible loss for Arizona State?

I'm out of new ways to explain it, so bear with me as I rehash more of the same.

Let's start with the run game. I'm now of the opinion that Keegan Herring is STILL not healthy and may not be for the entire season. He was supposedly coming off of his best week of practice all season and still only rushed for 37 yards on 14 carries. Trust me, I was cheering like hell on his effort to get into the end zone and the moxie (is this the 20's?) of the offensive line, especially Paul Fanaika, to get Keegan across the goal line. But it's now completely obvious that this team will not be able to run the ball in 2008.

Whoever thought that Dimitri Nance could stretch the ball from sideline to sideline is terribly mistaken. It's now official that Nance has taken a 100% step back since last season, and part of that is because coaches are trying to turn him into Keegan Herring. Dimitri will never be the kind of back to dance in the backfield and turn corners off tackle. He is a between the tackles, up-and-down runner. Yet time after time, we see Nance try to go off-tackle. It doesn't work.

The most disappointing thing about this young offensive line is that in five games, it seems like there has actually been a step backwards rather than any sort of improvement, however small. The next time I see Tom Njunge on the field will be one time too many. He is tremendously undersized at this time to be an offensive lineman; being knocked on his butt on the offense's first play from scrimmage is a microcosm of how his day went. I didn't think losing Richard Tuitu'u would hurt this much, but both of his replacements have been disappointments.

On the bright side, Omar Bolden looked much better than he did against UNLV and Georgia. He looked sharp in coverage throughout the game. So did Troy Nolan. Nolan was hitting everyone in sight and tackled better than he did in the first four games combined. However, it's completely apparent that ASU has no one competent enough to play opposite Bolden. We barely saw Pierre Singfield yesterday, and when Terell Carr was out there, he was either getting beaten, taking a penalty or taunting a Cal player when he himself did nothing on a play to stop him. Carr sure talked a lot for a guy who did very little.

And then, of course, there was Rudy. After the game in 2006 in Berkeley, he uttered his now infamous "Maybe I'm not as good as I thought" line. The guy who seemingly had almost unflappable confidence AKA cockiness left California a mentally beaten man that day. Thought it couldn't get worse?

He left Memorial Stadium on crutches yesterday and wouldn't address why. The ice pack on his ankle did the talking. The warrior of an ASU quarterback, who has stayed so remarkably healthy and played through pain since 2005, was limping out of Berkeley a beaten man again. I've watched the play in the 4th quarter where he got totally blindsided several times now, and there is no excuse for either of the guys on the left side to miss that block. If you remember another play where RC got hit that hard, post it up as a comment, because I'm lacking in ideas.

Remarkably, there were some bright spots. Kyle Williams reemergence as an offensive and special teams factor was nice to see. He made a couple catches, including his touchdown, that reminded us of the Kyle we saw last year. He looked shifty and confident again when Rudy was able to deliver him the football. He also hit a few holes that sprang him on some nice kick and punt returns.

I was very impressed with Lawrence Guy yesterday. He got his first sack and recorded six tackles and gave us a glimpse of what we might get to see in the coming months and years. He's one of the most highly touted DL that ASU has seen in some time and he showed his potential yesterday.

All in all though, it was another disappointment. And that's the best way to describe it.

You can forget the Pac-10 title, folks. This isn't a top-tier team in the Pacific-10.

It's time to start thinking if this team will even be in the postseason.

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