The Arizona State Sun Devils returned home for Pac-12 play Saturday falling to Washington State 37-32 at Sun Devil Stadium. With the loss the Devils fall to 5-3, 2-3. The surprising Cougars improve to 5-2, 4-0. It was their first win in Tempe since 2001.
Here are five things we learned in the loss.
1. Sun Devil Sting…Neither players, nor head coach Todd Graham could hide their disappointment as the Devils came up short in a game they believed they gave away. It was their first home loss of the season and a crucial one considering ASU plays three of their last four on the road, including a trip to Seattle to take on the unbeaten Huskies next month. “Obviously this one hurts,” a disheartened Graham said. “We made critical mistakes at critical times.”
2. Gospel of Luke…Per usual, Graham brought pressure from everywhere (seven sacks) but it didn’t seem to faze junior quarterback Luke Falk who showed excellent footwork and pocket awareness consistently finding open receivers behind the ASU secondary amidst the chaos. Falk finished 42-53 for 398 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. His arm strength and command of Mike Leach’s ‘Air Raid’ offense was no surprise to people who follow the Pac-12. It’s easy to see why he threw for over 4500 yards and 38 touchdowns as a sophomore.
3. Injury Bug Bites Again…Manny Wilkins started but couldn’t finish, leaving the game in the first quarter with a stinger and not returning. “He took a hit,” Graham said of Wilkins. “It wasn’t safe for him to go back in.” True freshman Dillon Sterling-Cole replaced Wilkins and well, played like a true freshman. Some positive moments but also plenty of missed opportunities, as well as fumbled snap. “Dillon did what he could do,” senior wide receiver Tim White said. “He played with heart…we just need to finish drives.” ASU also played without linebacker Salamo Fiso who left with a leg injury and didn’t return.
4. Getting Edgy…No one can question the heart or effort of undermanned ASU Saturday, particularly pass-rush specialist Koron Crump who was a frequent visitor in the Wazzu backfield, sacking Falk three times and forcing a fumble among his four tackles. The junior now has a team-high eight sacks and three forced fumbles on the season.
And speaking of Edgy. How about Todd Graham’s comments to WSU head coach Mike Leach after a week that saw Leach accuse Graham and his staff of stealing signs? The two met for the post game handshake and this happened.
Todd Graham tells Mike Leach his comments about ASU sign-stealing are "chickenshit": pic.twitter.com/kC2KWsjIO3
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 23, 2016
Todd Graham would not comment after the game and Mike Leach to all ASU related questions said “I respectfully decline to answer that at the risk of getting a public reprimand or fine.”
5. Dirty Harry…It’s hard to believe 6-foot-4, 220-pound wide receiver N’Keal Harry is a true freshman. The former Chandler High star is widely considered the top recruit in the Todd Graham Era. Saturday he showed his size and strength (again) going across the middle snatching balls out of the air. He finished with six receptions for 76 yards. “I thought N’Keal made some big-time catches and plays down the stretch,” Graham said. His three touchdown receptions leads the Devils and Harry is second in receptions through eight games.
The Devils are back on the road next week taking on struggling Oregon (2-5, 0-4) in Eugene.