Pac-10 Week 11 Notes and Observations: Arizona State Sun Devils

By Sam Saig, November 17, 2009 10:42 pm

Arizona State Sun Devils 4-6 Overall (2-5 Conference)

This Week’s Score: Oregon 44 – Arizona State 21

Next Week’s Opponent: @UCLA

This is looking all too familiar. A four game losing streak could soon turn to six… the same length as last season. ASU has not posted back-to-back losing seasons since 1946-47, but the program is staring 4-8 right in the face. The Devils are not favored to beat UCLA this week, and they won’t be favored to beat the Wildcats either. So what happened?

In my opinion, it has been a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances. The offense wasn’t good to begin with, but when you play with a different combination of offensive lineman almost every week how can you expect to develop any cohesion? Three key contributors on the o-line suffered season ending injuries (Zach Schlink, Matt Hustad, Mike Marcisz) and numerous others missed time throughout the year. But the injury trouble wasn’t restricted to the o-line only, as 14 Sun Devils (seven different positions) suffered season-ending injuries.

The game against Oregon went about as expected. The normally stout ASU D never had a chance, but that should come as no surprise, as the Devils have not had any success against Chip Kelly’s misdirection spread attack since it debuted in 2007. Defensive coordinator Craig Bray even resorted to practicing without a ball all week in order to force the Devils to focus only on their assignments, but it just didn’t matter.

QB Brock Osweiler’s first start only lasted one half because of a shoulder injury, but that may have been a good thing. QB Samson Szakacsy led the offense on two third quarter TD drives which cut the UO lead to 31-21. Szakacsy gave ASU a dimension that it hasn’t had since Jake Plummer, but will Erickson stick with the mobile sophomore?

I certainly would.

Sure, Osweiler has the 6-8 frame and cannon arm, but Szakacsy appears to be at his best when the play breaks down, and on this offense, that is often. Roll the dice DE, because against the Bruins defensive line (especially DT Brian Price), ASU will need a QB that can escape the pocket quickly.

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