Washington State coming into the match up had a whole set of issues stirring of their own. But it was the all around dominate effort by the Sun Devils that would set the tone early in this game and put it far out of reach. Looking at the stat sheet it looked like a top notch Varsity group against a fair JV team.
It is very clear that Coach Mike Leach has some work to do up north before things get turned around and after recent allegations I foresee that project getting harder by the day. Let's break it all down and talk about what happened in the Sun Devils' 46-7 victory over the Cougars.
Talking about the offense:
32 First Downs, 561 Total Yards. This had been an issue in the last four weeks and finally the Sun Devils put together long drives and moved the ball very successfully both on the ground and through the air.
260 Yards Rushing. Lots of guys getting touches with 61 attempts on the day.
36:09 Time of Possession. If only you could have this stat every week it would equal a lot of wins.
Quarterback Grade: A
It had been a long last couple weeks of stagnant play out of this group, yet finally things got rolling and a solid day came out of both QBs. Michael Eubank was able to come into the game and finally get a chance to sling the ball and he did well with his opportunities downfield going 7/9 for 55 yards and a touchdown. His interception came on a very nice play by the Washington State Cornerback making a play on the ball. Eubank also added a score and 33 yards on the ground. I really thought the play calling this game finally allowed him some of the same looks and plays that Taylor Kelly gets which has not always been the case this season. The end result was some good productivity on Eubank's part.
Taylor Kelly had a very nice day and made easy of his reads Washington State gave him. His stats were near perfect going 20/23 for 246 yards and four touchdowns. I thought Kelly was still fleeing the pocket on too many pass attempts at times though. The pocket was set up perfect on several plays and yet whether it was a vision issue or not feeling confident in his offensive line he fled out. Overall, a great day at the position group and hopefully a big confidence builder moving into the next game.
Running Back Grade: A-
Cameron Marshall, D.J. Foster, James Morrison and Marion Grice all did a very grade A, solid job. Although there was only a rushing touchdown from Michael Eubank on the day the backs played a solid game chopping away at Washington State and doing a great job in pass protection as well. Of the 260 yards total rushing the RBs earned 206 of those yards. James Morrison showed that he is the vicious runner we all know he is and it will always be a mystery to me how he has not seen the field more over the last two seasons.
Marion Grice on his receiving touchdown had a very impressive effort making several tacklers miss. He is truly something dangerous in space and I've seen certain backs of ours over the years end up getting tackled by the first guy there on the swing routes far too many times. This simply never happens with him. Very solid game from the backs. Bring it to Tucson!
Receivers/Tight-End Grade: A
It had been several weeks since we had the receivers perform on the stat sheet like they did Saturday.
Rashad Ross, Kevin Ozier and Jamal Miles all performed well with their opportunities. The run blocking from this group was also improved and I felt like watching the game tape it was clear they showed higher effort blocking than the week before. Ross led the group with two scores on the day and 79 yards. Ozier was right behind him with 60 yards and Miles had 53. Chris Coyle had a day to remember as well catching three balls for 53 yards and 2 scores.
Very solid day from all the receivers and as I said. Very nice day blocking as well.
Offensive Line Grade: B
An improved performance this week versus the Cougars but I still personally feel this group can play stronger than they did. Allowing four sacks and some of the potential big run plays stumble against a Washington State defense I felt they could run over was still a passing performance but I hold this group to high standards. They boys up front played a good game.
In the end lots of guys got on the field out of this group and it was wonderful to see. Look for the game down in Tucson to depend highly on this position group's play. If the boys up front can hold off the blitz from the 3-3 stack look of UofA it may be a very successful night for ASU.
Great performance all around and the offense graded out on the day higher than it has in a long time. Hopefully this was a huge confidence builder as a whole for Offensive Coordinator Mike Norvell and his boys. Bring this type of production down to Tucson and the game will no doubt be a Sun Devil victory!
Talking about the Defense :
241 Total yards allowed. Washington State has been known to put up yards this whole season and points to go with it. ASU held them to 1 yard rushing on 19 attempts and only 240 through the air on 49 attempts. Not too shabby.
14 First Downs. Lots of drive killing effort by the Sun Devils defense .
7 Sacks. With 49 passing attempts and Washington State being among the bottom nationally in sacks allowed we expected this type of effort. The ASU defense didn't disappoint.
Defensive Line Grade: A
Davon Coleman was in the backfield all day leading the Sun Devils in tackles for loss with three, two of which were sacks. I thought Coleman did a really nice job on the day with his effort and energy. This is something I have felt at times with him has lacked and there was none of this in his performance.
Carl Bradford continued his productive season adding another sack to his 9.5 on the season following just one behind team leader Will Sutton. Overall, I really felt this performance was just what the doctor ordered for the group up front. ASU got into a lot of base looks and allowed the defensive line up front to really get after it. There is not a lot to critique when the performance is this good.
All I ask for is that the D-Line play this solid this week and focus in on the run game of UofA. It will be one of the major determining factors playing against an offense that can turn it on with only a few simple plays in that area but they do them well. #Focus
Linebackers Grade: A
We won't ever forget linebacker Brandon Magee. His time in Tempe has been a roller coaster of success. After last year's injury and coming back to be the face of this program under Coach Todd Graham there is not enough praise you can give someone of his character. Plain and simple, he is a very special person.
Saturday's performance was just a sum up of all the hard work he has put in this whole season. A swift sack, a nice pass break up and four tackles to end his home game career at ASU was a fun game to watch as a fan. I want to personally thank Brandon Magee for being such a great Sun Devil!
The rest of the group was productive as well spending a lot of time out in pass coverage. ASU's version of the Tampa-2 was in working effect and there was a lot of man coverage being played which has been rare in the defense this season. Personally, I feel this may be one of the best ways and looks we saw Saturday to play the Wildcats against. Hopefully some of the playbook they were able to execute Saturday will be used down in Tucson because the different looks than we have seen worked very nice.
Plain and simple with the way Arizona will play offense. They just take what you give them. Each play has a read off of it that will allow their QB to make his hot routes and run decisions based on that look given from the Defense . If the Sun Devils can get into some of the man looks they had with the play of the linebackers and secondary there will be a lot of success I predict.
Secondary Grade: A
Keelan Johnson had a game to remember on the stat sheet collecting two interceptions and tied for team lead seven tackles. The overthrown balls literally looked intended for Johnson but he played his part and made some very nice catches on those balls.
Alden Darby also had a very nice day with his sack and seven tackles. The junior was all over the field and played with the usual energy we have come to know from him. Deveron Carr had two nice pass break ups and Osahon Irabor was as solid as he has been this whole season. As I said above it is going to be crucial for this group along with the linebackers to play as well as they did against Washington State this upcoming week.
If they can disguise a lot of their looks pre snap and allow the secondary to play some solid man like they were against the Air Raid then ASU can the players in the box can hopefully get after the run game. Solid man, base defense can often times save you far more than it will ever hurt you. Great job secondary. Let's see the performance repeated!
The defense played grade A all around and took it to a Washington State team that was ripe for the beating. The "Goose" was lost with only 57 seconds left and if you take the 87 yards and seven points out of that last drive it would have looked even more like a shellacking. Damn great job!
Special Teams Grades:
Kickoff Team: A-
Alex Garoutte showed he had a leg on three of his kicks as he put them for touchbacks. I often wonder where that has been at times on the season. Washington State had five total returns for just 85 yards and the longest being 22 yards. Solid day by the coverage team.
Kickoff Return team:
Incomplete. ASU never had a chance to return a kick. Incomplete grade here.
Punt Team: B+
Josh Hubner had 3 beautiful kicks downed inside the 20-yard line but the grade falls below an A because of his one, rare shank out of bounds which nearly ended up in the stands. Hubner average over 40 yards on the day and should be considered one of the top punters in college football at year's end. May he pin UofA deep all day this upcoming Friday!
Punt Return Team: C+
Four returns for 25 from Jamal Miles and the longest was 14 yards. It is clear ASU has given up on setting up returns and the last couple weeks has shown several block looks. It would be nice to see this group to have improved this whole season but it just hasn't happened.
Field Goal Team: C-
C's get degrees or something like that. Jon Mora was one for two on the day missing an easy kick of 31 yards. One thing is for sure. EVERY point will matter this upcoming week.
Overall Team Grades:
Defense : A
Special Teams: B-
Great win by the Arizona State Sun Devils! This was a game that should have gone as it did and we are all proud of the way the Maroon and Gold played on Saturday sending the seniors out on such a proud note in Tempe.
I could write a novel on the next part of this column.... but let's keep it simple.
Defensive end Kyle Caldwell played for the Sun Devils from 2003-2006 and finished with Sun Devil career with 90 tackles and 10.5 sacks. He earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honors in 2003 and Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recognition in 2006. A graduate of Scottsdale Saguaro High School, Caldwell is also a member of the Sabercats' coaching staff who won the 2010 Class 4A Division I state championship.