Can we all agree that Pac-12 After Dark is something that actually exists? I believe that we all do. With the sixth-ranked Washington Huskies in town to battle the Arizona State Sun Devils it seemed like a formality to what the end result would be on Saturday night.
Hold that thought football fans.
Arizona State was coming off a bye week in their preparation for the powerful Husky team. Most people, including me figured that the Sun Devils needed each one of the bye week days to get ready for Washington.
At the outset of the game the Sun Devils used that extra week of practice to good use. The offense used tempo offense to keep the Huskies off balance and it led to points.
The Sun Devils led 7-0 after the first quarter and they looked inspired. Playing the number six team in the country tends to bring that out in a football team.
Going into the second quarter you wondered if the high powered Husky offense would find its groove.
The Sun Devils put a couple of more field goals on the board and boosted their lead to 13-0 heading into halftime.
Washington looked stagnant, flat, and uninterested.
The Huskies had 42 yards of total offense and ran only 20 total plays. On the other side of the field the Sun Devils ran 42 plays for 163 total yards. The Devils were making the most of their opportunities.
Jake Browning, Washington quarterback, had 41 of the 42 total yards for the Huskies. Meanwhile, the Husky ground attack was null and void with only a measly 1 yard of positive gain.
Halftime is where you make the adjustments.
However, you never make adjustments for your kicking game.
Washington came out in the second half and looked like they had got a “talking to” at halftime. The ball was getting out of Jake Browning’s hands a little quicker and they seemed a bit sharper on the offensive end.
You can have the best scheme or adjustments being made, but if your kicker is missing field goal attempts from 30 yards and closer you can’t plan for that. Those are chip shots for kickers.
Penalties also kept the Huskies from getting on the scoreboard as well. Chris Peterson went to his Boise State playbook and broke out a reverse play that went to the end zone. It created momentum, got the Washington fans barking, and got the Sun Devil fans groaning.
The Dawgs were caught holding on the play. The touchdown was taken away and from there the Pac-12 After Dark karma was on.
You need to give credit where credit is due. The Sun Devils played out of their minds on Saturday night. The defense played as well as I have seen them play all season. I’m not going to lie here. I expected Washington to score at least 40 points on the young ASU defense.
Arizona State’s defense stepped up, flew around the field, and made plays when they had to. Jake Browning never felt completely comfortable in the pocket and that was a direct result of the pressure that the defensive line put on him as well as the coverage downfield that took away the passing game from Browning.
In the end, coaches coach, but players make plays.
The exclamation on the Sun Devil players going out and making plays was when ASU quarterback, Manny Wilkins, jumped the Husky defender with a couple of minutes left in the game. The Sun Devil faithful roared and it told me that the Sun Devils were not going to be denied the victory. The Devils wanted it more than the Huskies. Period.
The Sun Devils walked off the field with a 13-7 win and confidence going into the next couple of games against Utah (road) and USC (home). A win like this can certainly turn around a season.
Sun Devil fans are waiting and hoping that it does. Forks Up Arizona State, you deserve that win on Saturday night.