Video by Jordan Hamm
Written Piece by Zach Alvira
It was perhaps one of the worst performances by Arizona State seen in quite some time. And by time the Sun Devils’ 34-21 loss to Washington State was over, Sun Devil Stadium had nearly emptied and the fans that did remain either booed or left shaking their heads at what had just transpired.
The offense was in out of sync and the defense, while it held its own at times, was on the field more often than it should’ve been.
Maybe it was the early game that threw the Sun Devils off. Or maybe it was a lasting hangover from debacle against Utah two weeks ago that was followed by a bye week. Either way, whatever the Sun Devils attempted to accomplish during their week off didn’t make a difference.
“This game was similar to Utah game in the sense that, in Utah, in the second half, we did not play very well on either side of the football,” Arizona State coach Herm Edwards said. “Opening this game, the first half we didn’t play very well. The takeaway I get from it is the turnovers, the miscues.”
Arizona State, dating back to the third and fourth quarters against the Utes, have been outscored 62-21 in the last 90 minutes of play. The offense has scored just three touchdowns in its last 23 drives.
On Saturday against Washington State, five of those drives ended with a turnover. Quarterback Jayden Daniels threw two interceptions against the Cougars and finished 23 of 35 for 228 yards with just one touchdown – a 12-yard pass to LV Bunkley-Shelton near the end of the first half.
Defensive end Michael Matus wouldn’t let all the blame go to the offense for Arizona State’s blunder Saturday afternoon. He said the defense could have also capitalized on opportunities to get Washington State off the field and keep it out of the end zone.
“We gave up 28 points in the first half, this isn’t all on Jayden,” Matus said. “We might have given the ball up four times, but we didn’t respond well, either. This isn’t Jayden, this isn’t just the offense, this is on all of us.”
Arizona State seemed doomed from the beginning. On the second play of its opening drive, Daniels found DeaMonte Trayanum who, after hauling in the pass, was stripped resulting in the first turnover of the game. Washington State wasn’t able to capitalize with the short field.
The Sun Devils’ second offensive drive lasted just one play when Daniels found Bryan Thompson for a 12-yard play, but he was stripped. Washington State quarterback Jayden de Luna capped off the 20-yard drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
The Sun Devils found a rhythm in their second drive as they went 44 yards in 10 plays before Daniels tried to thread a pass into a tight window and was picked off. Washington State capitalized again, this time on a de Laura 28-yard pass to Travell Harris.
Arizona State’s defense did what it could to give the offense a chance. Linebacker Merlin Robertson intercepted a de Laura pass to give the Sun Devils possession on the 12-yard line going in. Arizona State came away with no points after a Cristian Zendejas missed field goal.
“It’s very frustrating because (the turnovers) are something we harped on all week,” Daniels said. “We put the defense in bad positions. We can’t expect the defense to hold up for four quarters if we are going to keep giving Washington State the ball … two of them are on me but at the end of the day I have to play better, and the offense has to play better.”
Washington State found the end zone twice more in the first half. Deon McIntosh ran in a touchdown from a yard out and de Laura connected with Calvin Jackson Jr. on a 45-yard score.
de Laura finished 17 of 27 for 234 yards and two touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. As a team, Washington State had 400 yards of offense compared to Arizona State’s 406. But turnovers and six accepted penalties, half of which on the offense, plagued Arizona State’s efforts.
Trayanum managed to find the end zone late in the fourth on a 1-yard plunge with the game already decided. Backup quarterback Trenton Bourguet came in and led the Sun Devils down the field for their third score of the game, an 11-yard pass to Andre Johnson.
“I think our players maybe took this home venue for granted thinking, ‘hey, we play at home, everything is supposed to work out.’ Well, it doesn’t work out and you turn the ball over and you drop balls, and you give big plays in the passing game,” Edwards said. “Second half was a little bit better. Defensively we did some things early and got off the field. But offensively we got going in the second half, but it was way too late.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The loss brings Arizona State’s record to 5-3 on the year and 3-2 in Pac-12 play. The Sun Devils are still technically in play for a trip to the conference title game at the end of the season. But they need a lot of help.
Beyond that, Edwards said there is still plenty to look forward to for Arizona State fans. The team is one win away from bowl eligibility.
But whether that is good enough for fans who had high expectations for this Sun Devil team only to see them fall apart now three times on the year remains to be seen.
“We’ve been very fortunate to be in some bowl games around here so I think we can’t lose sight of that,” Edwards said. “We don’t control our destiny by any stretch of our imagination. We have to find a way to win a game again.”