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Arizona State Football: Sun Devils Reeling From Loss After Loss

The Arizona State Sun Devils are taking loss after loss, and their promising season is starting to unravel. We talk with Justin Karp of Bold Saguaros and Brad Denny of House of Sparky to learn more about what's been going wrong with ASU.

Stephen Dunn

What were the biggest factors as to why ASU lost to USC? Were there any positives to note?

Justin Karp, Bold Saguaros - I thought that just as they did against UCLA and Oregon State, the Sun Devils came out of the gate ready to play, which is something we got used to just the opposite of over the past three seasons. There's certainly no doubt that Arizona State comes out of the tunnel ready to play. Maintaining that momentum through four quarters has become the problem.

Brad Denny, House of Sparky - First and foremost, it was Marqise Lee. He's one of those players that is so good, it's really hard to be made when he beats your team. The Sun Devils had no answer for him, and I don't think many other teams in the nation do either. Offensively, the offensive line play was really poor, and the pressure on Taylor Kelly (a season-high seven sacks) really rattled the young quarterback, and the offense ground to a halt. On the plus side, Devilbacker Carl Bradford continues his All-Pac-12 season, filling the stat sheet with 10 tackles (two for loss), one sack, an interception, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble.

Arizona State is really struggling offensively. Have teams found the counters to Todd Graham's schemes, or are there other factors at work?

Justin Karp, Bold Saguaros - I'm hesitant to say that there's been a step backwards in Taylor Kelly's game since opening night, but it's hard to argue against those who say he has regressed after watching him bumble and stumble in the 4th quarter against the Trojans. What we're seeing isn't necessarily the rest of the Pac-12 catching on to the Sun Devils' machinations but rather a rather baffling inability for ASU to settle into a regular offensive scheme. Obviously, what worked against teams like Colorado and Utah are not necessarily going to work against Oregon and USC, but facets of those schemes that did work can be adapted against stronger defenses. We haven't seen that.

Brad Denny, House of Sparky - The biggest factor is the complete lack of any threat at wide receiver. The group is unable to get open, and in the event they do, it's often a drop. That has led to the passing game reverting to a series of checkdowns and screens, which recent opponents have noted and defended against. The offensive line has really struggled, and the consistent pressure on Taylor Kelly (ASU ranks 111th in the nation in sacks allowed) has really impacted the offense and Kelly's development. Lastly, offensive coordinator Mike Norvell's playcalling has been quite suspect in recent weeks, often moving away from things that are working in an attempt to be too clever, often with terrible results.