Sunday, September 14, 2008

I woke up this morning, and somehow, we still lost to UNLV

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

It was supposed to be the last chance to work out all the kinks before next week's game against Georgia, a team who against South Carolina looked very beatable yesterday.

It was supposed to be the game where our problems running the ball were ironed out and Dimitri Nance shook off the rust.

It all turned out to be nothing.

Rebels 23, Devils 20. OT.

There have been plenty of unforgettable losses over the past few years. The Cal Homecoming debacle of 2003. The Matt Miller drop. USC...every year. The shutout at Cal. Early Doucet's non-catch. Jonathan Stewart's coming out party at SDS. The Holiday Bowl.

What was the difference last night though? For pretty much the first time in years, ASU lost a game they legitimately should not have lost. It wasn't a rivalry. They weren't playing a rising program. Not a team that had their own conference title dreams or national prominence.

They were playing UNLV. The UNLV that hasn't been to the postseason since 2000. The one that squeaked by pathetic Utah State on August 30 and got dismantled by Utah last week. A program that, since 2004, won less games combined (8) than ASU did last season (10).

So, after all that, where does blame lie? Frankly, I don't have an answer to that yet. Last night was such a completely pathetic performance in all aspects of football that I don't even know where to start.

The play calling was atrocious. Rudy Carpenter's field awareness was miserable. The defense simply missed players. Mike Nixon said after the game that having to stop Frank Summers 22 times was not just physically demanding but "mentally exhausting." How are you going to stop Knowshon Moreno when stopping the running back from UNLV was physically and mentally impossible?

Even the bounces were going for the Rebels. That shovel pass during UNLV's possession was a half second away from being a fumble. Philip Payne's game-tying touchdown pass was overthrown and took an ESPN Top 10 style one-handed catch to convert. Omar Clayton's miracle 2nd down completion to Ryan Wolfe bounced off the hands and helmets of two ASU defenders. And for the first time in my memory, a special teams unit got a good push on an ASU field goal attempt and blocked a kick from America's best kicker.

What about the play calling? ASU struggled to make things happen between the tackles all night, so why on 1st and 2nd down in overtime did Nance get the ball? Why, on a Rebel drive that lasted 9:16 in the 4th quarter, did the Devils defense not adjust and let their offense convert three consecutive 3rd downs to keep the drive alive? That drive led to the field goal that cut it to 20-13.

Speaking of that, ASU could not hold onto the ball to save their lives. After the Devils scored a touchdown to make it 20-10, here's a look at the ASU drives for the rest of the game:
  • 7:25-5:51 3rd: 3 plays, 9 yards, Punt
  • 3:15-0:44 3rd: 5 plays, 15 yards, Punt
  • 6:28-3:03 4th: 6 plays, 20 yards, Punt
  • 0:18-0:00 4th: 1 play, 9 yards, End of regulation
  • OT: 4 plays, 7 yards, Blocked field goal
So let's get this straight. After the UNLV three and out and Kyle Williams long touchdown, which should have given ASU all the momentum, the Devils only mustered 19 plays for 60 yards. That's simply bad situational play calling. The Devils absolutely could not hold onto the ball.

This isn't all I've got. This is only part one of my thoughts on the UNLV debacle. I have to go to work now and stew about this for the rest of the morning and afternoon. I'll have more for you later on tonight. And it all starts with Chris McGaha being open on 3rd and 3 in overtime and Rudy Carpenter deciding to scramble and throw the ball away instead.

Photo Credit: ESPN.com

13 comments:

baal said...

"Mike Nixon said after the game that having to stop Frank Summers 22 times was not just physically demanding but "mentally exhausting." How are you going to stop Knowshon Moreno when stopping the running back from UNLV was physically and mentally impossible?"

What an idiotic statement--tackling someone like Sommers requires proper careful technique or there is a fair chance he will put you in the hospital. Moreno is a great but totally different kind of back at about 195 pounds at times you can finger tackle the dude. Obviously you've never played the game and had a guy like Sommers barreling down on you with force and speed. Moreno is a great back--but Sommers is scary because he can hurt you--not just take it to the house.

I'm starting to think the ASU fan base---of which I am a member--is populated mostly by morons. No one is willing to give UNLV credit for playing out of their minds and getting lucky--which is the ultimate compliment--they won with no margin for error.

The catch for the tying TD was one of the 5 best ever made at SDS.

Get a clue or shut down this blog!

Ashley said...

oh, so this is what a broken heart feels like....
Last night was a tragic moment for Sun Devil Nation. That REALLY lets the air out of next week's showdown against UGA.

I was so stoked after I saw that UGA struggled to barely beat the same South Carolina team that somehow managed to lose to Vandy (Vandy?) just a week ago.

Georgia did look beatable, and after seeing unranked Maryland spank #23 Cal, I wanted to believe in miracles.

After last night's embarrassing performance... Not so much

Nick Saia (usa) said...

baal = mike nixon

Coulter said...

My first impression is the bulk of the blame rests on the shoulders of the coaching staff. They kept the play calling fairly one dimensional and did not attack UNLV. It seemed like they never believed they could lose and coached without the sense of urgency you need to put a team away. I thought we were a team that liked to "fling it" all over the field? 23 pass attempts to 33 runs, can you say looking ahead?

Erickson at the half said UNLV was giving them the run so they were taking it but since when do you let UNLV dictate how you run your offense? Did the coaching staff really respect their opponent because if they did why are they going for it on 4th and 10 from the 35 yd line in a 3-0 game? UNLV stops them and puts together a short drive for a FG to tie the game, if you're playing UGA don't you either attempt the 52-yard FG or try and pin them deep with a punt? Going for it would be option C but if you think you have nothing to worry about you go for it in the 1st qtr. The coaches thought they couldn't lose the players played like they couldn't lose and the result was a horrible loss.

Nick Saia (usa) said...

I think you can't put the blame on anyone but the players. I know it's a little more difficult in the college game to blame the players, but does anyone REALLY think our team has the same amount of talent from other successful seasons?

Rudy Carpenter is our QB, and he's our BEST QB... and that is just sad. some might call him the posterchild... which is pretty homo, but i digress.

By my watch... this is right about the time derek shaw was supposed to be bombing deep balls in sun devil stadium, but we had dirk koetter, he "listened to his players"... and that was just plain shitty.

If this is the effort our PLAYERS are going to give us, this isn't our year. But don't blame DE, no one could coach rudy carpenter to be a leader on the field.

What's Bruin said...

baal:

Are you seriously comparing Frank Summers to Knowshon Moreno? Really?

Come on now. That's hilarious. He may be a bigger back, but I can guaran-frickin'-tee you that it's more physically exerting and mentally exhausting to bring down Moreno than Summers.

"At times you can finger tackle the dude."

Alrighty then.

Schlitz said...

UGA Visitor:

So this is Arizona State football?

Guys, I must say, I was really hoping for a victory from you all last night. Fact of the matter is, I, like you, never saw this one coming. I won't rub it in, as it's unnecessary and you don't deserve it. That's the beauty in college football and why they play the game. You just never know. Lord knows UGA has been there too, along with every other program that gets the shocker of all times. Life goes on and you live to play another week. ASU isn't/can't be that bad... You just got caught off guard, and yes, it sucks.

I personally came into the season predicting that ASU would be a really tough game. Most UGA fans disagreed and cursed me for thinking such. Doubt has certainly been cast on the challenge of this week's game for the Dawgs. I say that with the utmost respect (agree or disagree, take it as you will). Obviously, I hope to see UGA win this one by halftime, but like you all learned this weekend, anything can happen and I realize this. Therefore, let me move on and hopefully spark a fire under this upcoming match.

To address a couple issues, I wanted to call out baal and ashley.

Baal- are you honestly comparing the toughness of Sommers and Moreno? You do realize why a guy like Sommers is playing for UNLV and why Knowshon Moreno plays at "Tailback U" right? First of all, I didn't even know UNLV was fielding a team this year, but no matter. If the ASU players share your thoughts about being able to "finger tackle" Moreno this week, I will rest easy knowing where this ballgame is headed. And before you speak too soon, I HAVE played the game and know very well the calibler of each player we're debating.

Ashley, absolutely UGA is beatable. And if things fall ASU's way, you may get a dream come true (though far fetched and really not possible)... The issue I raise lies more in the realm of general complacency on your part. Ragging on and insinuating that a Vanderbilt team, which is now ranked higher then ASU, is a program worthy of (?) is worth a conversation. I have little doubt that Vandy would beat ASU by two touchdowns right now. That said, if you question Vandy, imagine what others are saying about ASU?

I hope I haven't ruffled too many feathers and look forward to the discussions. Isn't this what makes college football the greatest sport in America! The best part is that since we're not in the same conference, hostility should really only run on the surface. I know mine does. If you were Florida though.... I wouldn't be here... They my friends, are not worth my breathe in good sportsmanship.

Schlitz

baal said...

apparently UGA fans don't recognize hyperbole when they see it.

If you don't know what hyperbole means and don't know how to use the google--substitute 'finger tackle' for 'arm tackle'.

Next, I'm sure we will see denials from UGA fans that Knowshon has never been arm tackled.

What's Bruin said...

Arm tackle, finger tackle, whatever. Go ahead and keep on making the assertion that tackling Summers is somehow more difficult than bringing down Moreno. I'm happy to sit here and smirk, because that's a patently ridiculous assessment.

Schlitz: As for whether or not UGA is, in fact, beatable - you're absolutely correct. We had much the same game that ASU had on Saturday; we were just lucky enough to have South Carolina choke the game away at the end. I fully expect the game against ASU to be a grind-out, mentally tough game in which either team has a chance to pull it out.

That said, I think the difference in the end is defense, and Georgia has more of it. You could argue the offensive playmakers are a bit of a wash, although I'm sure there's some Georgia fans who would disagree. However, UGA has a distinct talent advantage on the defensive side of the ball.

baal said...

That's just ignorant--ASU has more speed than brawn--and is much more vulnerable to a bruiser like Summers--who places a premium on proper technique on every tackle. ASU will run Moreno down and surround him just like SCAR did. It's not a difficult concept--unless you're a wild eyed homer.
ASU was also missing it's two best LB in the 4th Q (Munns who had pinky surgery and Goethl who had a 4 q injury-he's OK)

Moreno will not carry the day--the game is in Staffords' hands--and he has to play well.

Schlitz said...

Munn's who had pinky surgery? Hell, he's still got 4 good fingers right baal? Sorry, you put that one on a tee.

ASU speed? I'll have to marinate on that one. Never heard the two in the same sentence, but duly noted and I'll look into this theory. As for the Moreno comparison to Sommers (whoever the hell that guy is) I'm going to have to defer comment. Your arguement is about as logical as proposing the earth is flat.

baal said...

schlitz is a moron.

Dyn-0-mite!

Schlitz said...

Good response baal. Well thought out and a great testament to character. You tha man!