Heading into Saturday’s game between the Oregon Ducks and the Arizona State Sun Devils there was a feeling a desperation on both teams. The Sun Devils had a lost a couple games in a row and the Ducks had lost five straight. It was a must win game for both squads.
Arizona State needed win to become bowl eligible and to get a bit of momentum back.
The Sun Devils have been bit by the injury bug in a big way and it had begun to show in their last couple of losses. Depth had become a problem especially at the quarterback position.
Manny Wilkins and Brady White the top two quarterbacks on the depth chart for Arizona State were out with injury. The responsibility to lead the Sun Devils on the field fell to fourth string quarterback Dillon Sterling-Cole.
All season the Sun Devils have been a porous type of defense. Arizona State really has not been able to stop anybody and tackling has also been an issue. Nothing really changed with this train of thought in the first half.
The Ducks were able to throw a ton of passes underneath. By doing this it created a bit rhythm for the Ducks true freshman quarterback Justin Herbert. Herbert had 320 yards passing in that first half and the Sun Devils seemingly had no answer for it.
As the two teams headed to the locker room at halftime, the Sun Devils were down 30-14. Any sense of momentum had been sucked right out of them.
The Ducks were looking to step on the gas in the second half and put the Sun Devils away.
Arizona State tried to put up a fight and for a brief moment the Sun Devils pulled within five points.
It wasn’t meant to be for the Sun Devils on Saturday afternoon. The Ducks put them away and won 54-34. Now Arizona State finds itself looking down the barrel of a 5-4 record and three game losing streak.
What can be done for the Sun Devils?
Well, it’s hard to do too much when you have such a banged up roster. The Sun Devils are down to their fourth string quarterback Dillion Sterling-Cole. Enough said. Without experience at quarterback your chances of victory are slim.
Dillon Sterling-Cole played admirably, but it showed in terms of experience on the field. He made some throws that he shouldn’t of and had some costly interceptions. I doubt that the whole playbook has been open to Sterling-Cole, but how much can you open up to a fourth string quarterback?
Moving forward the Sun Devils have to get healthy or the season that had possibility disappears in the hot desert sun. They have to get Manny Wilkins back at quarterback. Wilkins adds confidence and leadership on the field for the Sun Devils. Those two things are in short supply right now for the Sun Devil offense.
Todd Graham is trying to keep his team from sinking in the standings and not getting to a bowl game. However, the coach can only do so much. Graham and his coaching staff can come up with a great scheme. However, not having the players to properly execute that scheme makes things tough on any team.
The Utah Utes are looming in the future for the Sun Devils.
Arizona State has to come up with a win against Utah at home in a couple of weeks. They need to take the off week to get healthy. If the Sun Devils can get the some of the defensive guys back and somehow get Manny Wilkins back Arizona State has a chance against Utah.
If the Sun Devils can’t get some of its players back, the season is done. You can’t climb the hill to victory without the proper horses. Let’s hope the Sun Devils horses get healthy.