Arizona State Football

November 13, 2011 by staff 

Arizona State Football, Two months into the season, Arizona State suddenly has stalled. On a cold, wet Saturday night, the Sun Devils couldn’t stop a team that had lost five in a row, showing no resolve and little heart.
In the end, Washington State’s fans raced onto the field, celebrating a 37-27 win in front of 27,000 fans at Martin Stadium. Meanwhile, ASU took a long walk back to the visitor’s locker room, wondering how a once-promising season has melted away.

“I’m just tired of being in this situation time and time again,” senior receiver Gerell Robinson said. “It’s been like this for the past three or four years, and it’s getting old.”

With UCLA losing earlier Saturday, ASU had a chance to regain control of the Pac-12 South. Instead, the Sun Devils, with two games to play, dropped to 6-4 and 4-3 in the Pac-12. They again need help to win a spot in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game.

“We are very dejected at this point and we have Arizona coming up,” coach Dennis Erickson said. “This is a big rivalry game for us and we just need to bounce back. We made some plays in the second half, but then again, we didn’t play well.”

Just a few weeks ago, Erickson had job security. Fans wondered about a contract extension for the 64-year-old coach. After ASU’s second loss in a row, that’s no longer the case. Erickson once again likely is fighting for his job.

Two months ago ASU entered the season thinking it had one of the Pac-12?s best defenses with one of the country’s best players in middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict. On Saturday, the Sun Devils gave up 503 yards of offense to team that hadn’t mustered half of that (224 against California) the previous week.

In his first extensive playing time of the season, redshirt freshman Connor Halliday lit up the Sun Devils. He completed 27 of 36 for 494 yards and four touchdowns. ASU’s defensive front didn’t pressure him (one sack) and an experienced secondary was nowhere to be found.

Halliday’s scoring passes went for 85 yards (broken coverage, the second in as many weeks), 23 yards, 19 yards and 17 yards. Washington State’s Marquess Wilson had eight catches for 223 yards and three touchdowns. Isiah Barton had seven grabs for 155 yards and a touchdown.

“Same thing happened to us last week,” Erickson said. “The bottom line is we aren’t playing well.”

And yet, still ASU had chances in the second half.

Leading 27-23 in the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils drove into the red zone. On third and 1 from the Washington State 9, Brock Osweiler was stopped short of a first down. On fourth and 1, Erickson considered his options.

“I was pretty set on going for it,” Erickson said. “If it was fourth and 3, I probably would’ve kicked, but I thought we had some momentum.”

Washington State’s Brandon Rankin stopped Cameron Marshall for a loss, turning the ball over.

There was more. After Washington State scored, taking a 30-27 lead, ASU again drove. Osweiler hit Robinson for 17 and 25 yards. Three plays later, ASU lined up first and goal from the Washington State 5. The Sun Devils threw incomplete on first down and rushed for a yard on second.

On third down, receiver George Bell dropped a touchdown pass. On fourth, Alex Garoutte — who missed the game winner last week at UCLA — missed a 21-yard field goal.

“He missed one last week, too, about the same way,” Erickson said, referring to the field goal Garoutte missed with six minutes left in the UCLA loss. “Sometimes that’s why you go for it on fourth and 1, too.”

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