Saturday, November 1, 2008

Better Effort, Same Result

It's simple now, really. Even as a journalist who took his last math class 5 1/2 years ago, I can put the numbers together.

Four games left. Four wins needed to get bowl eligible.

The worst part about this one was the marked, drastic improvement of the Arizona State Sun Devils performance across the board in their 27-25 loss at Oregon State tonight.

This was, by an extremely wide margin, the Devils' best effort of the season. I'm serious. The only problem was that this tremendous effort was only present on about 90% of the plays at Reser Stadium.

On the other 10%, ASU looked like the same-old-sorry-ass Sun Devils.

Yet on a day where wild finishes and upsets were the norm across the board, our Devils almost pulled off a miracle of their own.

Rudy Carpenter deserves a lot of credit for his performance tonight, regardless of his less-than-stellar numbers. On the day that RC took over as America's College Ironman at QB (Curtis Painter didn't start for Purdue today, in case you missed it), Rudy kept ASU afloat early in the game when, as usual, his running backs couldn't move the ball. He started 7-of-10 and kept his offense moving, albeit slowly, and kept the game close through the first 25 minutes.

RC came up with a VERY gutty effort today. The calls were going mostly against ASU (that gripe coming in a later post), his receivers were well covered and defended all night and he had to fight his own offensive line jumping the snap count pretty much every other play. However, that final drive, he was able to keep it all together and at least put the Devils in a position to tie the game.

Then, of course, he waited too long to pull the trigger on the 2-point conversion.

However, it seems as if Dennis Erickson and Rich Olson are set on running between the tackles until it works. Here's the funny thing though: it actually almost worked. Shaun DeWitty remarkably got free for 111 yards on 16 carries, a mindblowing (for him) 6.9 YPC. The bad news is that DeWitty's runs came at times where they were less than opportune. None of the dashes were considerably clutch or at times when the Devils needed him to break a big one.

On another bright side, Dimitri Nance touched the ball once and didn't fumble. Good for him!

The offensive line...guh. Not much to say here. You all saw it. Three drives, including the first two of the game, started with false start penalties...basically canceling any sort of momentum before the drive even started. I'm sure it was loud and rowdy at Reser Stadium tonight, but that was ridiculous. I'll have to go back and look, but I'm pretty sure every member of the offensive line jumped at some point, and that includes Andrew Pettes. The difference between the line and Pettes is that he redeemed himself on the same drive by grabbing the TD that led to the potentially tying two-point conversion. The bad news is that the rest of the guys up front did their best impression of a colander as the Beavers D-line came through unchallenged on the roll out.

On the defensive side, it was another typical ASU effort. By that, I mean, they forced a tremendous pick six by Troy Nolan. Unfortunately, it was the only turnover forced throughout the game.

Tackling wise, it was all or nothing. Either the Devils got to Jacquizz Rodgers immediately at the line or he stomped all over the Devils front seven. Quizz joins Frank Summers, Knowshon Moreno and Joe McKnight as RB's that have cracked 130 on the ground against the Sun Devils. For the most part, the diminutive freshman ran roughshod over the Sun Devils; at times, it took 3 or more ASU defenders to take him down.

The Sun Devils were able to take out starting QB/professional eater Lyle Moevao before the half. Unfortunately, that may have been a blessing in disguise for the Beavers. Backup Sean Canfield came in and ran the OSU offense like a charm, continually putting his offense in the right place at the right time. His mobility may have been what saved Oregon State on a few plays; Luis Vasquez and Lawrence Guy had really good games and were getting into the backfield all night.

All told, I can't say I was overly disappointed with the Devils effort tonight. They came out to play and kept it close with a far superior opponent who truly have the Rose Bowl in their sights. But it's games like this that teams with a senior quarterback and veterans on defense should pull out. That inability is what makes the Devils a poor football team in 2008.

I've got plenty of more analysis that I'll spread out through the weekend, including my first ever gripe about officiating. I really don't think I've ever posted on PFN about poor referee work, but this game was so terribly officiated that it deserves its own article.

I've also got some thoughts on that little skirmish on the OSU sidelines, and here's a warning: it's not complimentary toward our guys.


Scott Jones said...

I'll be interested to hear what you have to say about the skirmish - it sure looked like part of it was escalated by a member of the Beavers coaching staff who aggressively grabbed an ASU player and threw him to the side, then got into a shouting match.

aztribguy said...

We had tickets to sit in a suite at the Suns game tonight and we subjected ourselves to watching the ASU game on TV. Talk about abusive relationships. It's hard to watch the Devils now.

NotTheSun said...

I don't usually gripe about officiating either, but there were clearly two missed calls during the first half.

The first was obvious illegal procedure by OSU's left tackle on a play Jacquizz broke for a first down and then some. That helped sustained OSU's drive to their first score.

Second, a personal foul face mask on a run by ASU down the middle that would have tacked more valuable yardage onto an ASU drive.

Dick said...

Officiating? Kind of in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

This from an OSU blogger:

"Yet again, the Pac 10 refs show why they are the laughing stock of the nation. Not only did they not flag ASU for their beligerent late hit on Jacquizz that started the fight between the teams (they flagged them for the fight, not for the hit), but the blown call when Quizz broke out of the pile, just as he as done game after game, and they called him down. Anyone who watched the game or saw the replay on the board saw that it wasn't even close. NOT EVEN CLOSE. So instead of having a 1st goal from inside the 6, which we surely would have punched in for a TD, we had a 2nd and whatever and ended up having to settle for a field goal. Had they not blown him down, and we scored a TD, it would have completely put the game out of reach."


Scott Jones said...

I think that OSU blogger is mistaken, the personal foul call was for the late hit. The flag came out immediately after the hit, and before the skirmish. I don't recall if the refs mention a uniform number for the offsetting penalty on OSU, but it should have gone to a member of their coaching staff who roughed up an ASU player.

I think that the Rodgers call was wrong, but it wasn't a horrible call either. Rodgers' forward motion had stopped, but usually if the runners legs are still moving and there aren't 10 guys in the scrum, the refs let it go longer than that. In this case, they didn't. If Rodgers fumbles, I bet OSU is singing a different tune. Still a wrong call, but not a horrible one.

And, yes, while it would have given OSU a much better shot at 7 (I don't buy the "sure" score theory of the blogger), the bad PI call earlier helped keep that drive alive, too.