Pac-10 Week 7 Notes and Observations: Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State Sun Devils 4-2 Overall (2-1 Conference)
This Week’s Score: Arizona State 24 – Washington 17
Next Week’s Opponent: @Stanford
“We were trying to throw a 20-yard comeback to our outside guys and get in field-goal range. We took the tight end and Chris down the seams. I saw him (McGaha) by himself and thought that’s a hell of a play call, Dennis.”- ASU coach Dennis Erickson
The sarcasm in Dennis Erickson’s quote says it all. After all, how did Chris McGaha manage to get 15-20 yards behind the Husky defense? Certainly, Steve Sarksian and Nick Holt will take a lot of heat for the dramatic ending in Tempe, but you have to feel good for embattled quarterback Danny Sullivan. Just a few weeks ago, Sullivan was booed by the Sun Devil faithful as he exited Frank Kush Field after the Oregon State game, but on Saturday night he received thunderous applause for his game-winning 50-yard bomb with 13 seconds left to play.
Will the Devils use this win over the Huskies as a catalyst for a bowl game push? There is still plenty of work to be done, but the Devils appear to be improving each week and that is a very good sign.
The offense is starting to click in Tempe, as ASU racked up 464 yards of offense against the Dawgs. Sullivan played mistake-free, throwing for 263 yards and 1 TD on 21/35 passing. The offensive line continues to get better and better, and it was evident on Saturday as the unit paved the way for 170 yards on the ground while also giving Sullivan more time in the pocket.
Dimitri Nance ran hard on limited carries (13 car. 70 yards) and freshman Cameron Marshall flashed his explosiveness on a 75 yard run. The receivers had a fantastic game, and Kyle Williams even managed to throw a TD to T.J. Simpson (although Williams would later fumble on a sure TD at the goal line).
The defense played with the same fire and intensity that has defined the unit all year, and the night could have been better had it not been for a blown assignment on the first drive of the game (led to a Kearse TD) and the ridiculous penalties throughout the first half (Burfict was responsible for some and the officials were responsible for others). Still, the unit pressured Jake Locker all night and didn’t allow much in the running game.
Now the Devils will try to keep the momentum rolling as they head to Palo Alto for a date with an angry Stanford team. The Cardinal play as physical on offense as ASU does on D, and the battle of #7s (Gerhart vs. Burfict) should be great theater.