Found September 22, 2013 on Sports Report Arizona:
  Entering Saturday, the Arizona State University Sun Devils knew they would need big time performances in all aspects of the game to knock off #5 Stanford on the road.  The much hyped game ended in a fury and showcased the ability of the Sun Devils.  It was the first half however, which ultimately doomed Todd Graham‘s bunch.  Even in defeat, the Sun Devils fought to the bitter end and showed their resolve.  There are lessons to be had and brought forward to next week’s game against the Trojans. The first major concern from Saturday’s loss were the multiple mistakes made on offense throughout the first half.  Entering the game, Graham’s team had committed only 4 penalties through two games.  When the final whistle blew, the Sun Devils finished the game with 6 penalties for 65 yards, many of which came on offense.  Combined with untimely drops and the ASU offense looked sluggish and scared in the first half. Drops were a major concern against Wisconsin in a game where the Sun Devils likely should have led comfortably.  On Saturday however the drops proved costly as they ended a few ASU drives when it seemed the offense was finally getting a sense of rhythm.  In one series, running back Marion Grice dropped a sure first down pass which resulted in a punt.  On the subsequent drive the Cardinal kicked a field goal to extend their lead.  It was at the least a 6 point swing but likely a 10 point swing as it looked like the Sun Devils were pushing for a touchdown. The mental mistakes continued just minutes later as Taylor Kelly‘s pooch kick went horribly wrong as the quarterback’s attempt seemed to hit his own lineman in the back before being recovered by Stanford.  The very next play the Cardinal offense punched it in for a touchdown. The mental mistakes were compounded by the inability of the Sun Devils offensive line to provide a consistent pocket for Kelly in the passing game.  On ASU’s opening drive, pressure up the middle forced Kelly into a desperate pass which was intercepted by Stanford.  The resulting possession led to the game’s first score.  In the end the Cardinal defense totaled 3 sacks on the day, although their pressure was constant.  The lack of protection seemed to speed up the game for Kelly and the offense as the quarterback struggled to make the regular throws we’ve come to expect from the junior quarterback. The line also struggled to find regular running room for the Sun Devils as the unit finished with just 50 yards on 24 carries.  Grice struggled with a 2.9 yards per carry averaged as the Stanford front was just too physical and dominant through most of the game.  The lack of a running game only made things more difficult on the ASU defense as Will Sutton and the rest of the unit were forced to make quick turnarounds and face off against the massive Stanford offensive line. The game was not all doom and gloom for the Sun Devils as the second half fury displayed on both sides of the ball brought the game close.  The team showed heart and fight in the loss as they battled until the final whistle.  There were some positives for Graham and his team. Jaelen Strong emerged as the go to receiver for Kelly and the offense.  Strong finished the game with 12 catches, 168 yards receiving and 1 touchdown.  When Kelly had time in the pocket, Strong was routinely targeted.  Joining Strong as receiving threats were Grice and fellow running back D.J. Foster.  The two combined for 14 receptions and 112 yards.  Most of the yards were had in the second half as the offense put up 28 points in the game’s final two quarters after posting a goose egg in the first half. In the end it was a tale of two halves for ASU.  Moving forward it will be wise to remember the entire game and learn from the mistakes and expand on the things that worked.  The next challenge for the Sun Devils comes to Tempe on Saturday as the USC Trojans visit for another PAC-12 matchup.  Last season saw ASU fall to USC as the Sun Devils struggled to move the ball consistently.  The Stanford defense may have been the perfect primer for the ASU offense this time around.

Arizona State pooch punt goes horribly wrong

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