The invitations were sent, the stage was set for the Arizona State’s football team to join the upper echelon of college football teams. However, much like the bespectacled, acne-ridden teenager at the big dance, the Sun Devils fumbled and stumbled once again and is now hanging in the corner of the gymnasium eschewing any further big opportunities.
Back in their comfort zone of mediocrity, Coach Todd Graham will play the role of the cool kid that befriends the nerd in an attempt to raise their confidence. Unfortunately, the Sun Devils will most likely return to being the fringe team that is happy winning lower-level bowls in cities like San Antonio, El Paso and San Francisco.
Two marquee matchups on national networks—two losses. Thankfully, for the Sun Devils, the schedules lightens up a little over the next six weeks. They will dance with a couple dogs to help build up their confidence for their next big matchup against conference rival, UCLA on Nov. 23.
Here is a list of things we learned from the loss against Notre Dame and what they will need to make a splash in the media and in the national rankings.
After holding Notre Dame to a field goal after a 10-play, 56-yard yard drive that took over five minutes off the clock, there was a confident optimism on the Sun Devil sidelines. Trailing by three with 3:03 remaining in the game, the old Schoolhouse Rock song “Three is a Magic Number” was resonating in several Arizona State fans’ heads.
Then came one of quarterback Taylor Kelly’s worst drives of the game. A four-play drive that consisted of a sack, an incomplete pass and an interception. Kelly’s record as a starter is 2-6 when he throws an interception, but the two wins were this year, so maybe the tide has changed.
The defense stood up once again causing a three-and-out registering negative yardage.
Then came the punt.
Kelly and the Arizona State offense was starting at their own one-yard line and with 1:16 left and 99-yards to go to take the lead, Kelly threw another interception, this one was easily returned for a Notre Dame touchdown.
Two costly interceptions in the final minutes of the game prove that this team cracked under the pressure.
Will Sutton Is Not 100 Percent
With all the issues that South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney is having this season, it would stand to reason that Will Sutton would step up and fill the void of the league’s dominant defensive end.
Sutton only tallied three tackles against Notre Dame, two of them solo in an otherwise uninspired performance. His 16 tackles through five games are disappointing as he had twice that number through the first five games of the 2012 campaign. He was also a fixture in the opponents’ backfield last year with six-and-a-half sacks, through five games this year, he has one.
His two tackles-for-loss also pale in comparison to the 10 that he had achieved at this point last season,
Is it bad weight or that he is unmotivated?
He has seven games remaining, including four at home to improve on his draft stock because as it stands right now, he is looking to take a big tumble.
ASU Just Not Ready for Prime Time
As an avid fan and alumnus from Arizona State, I have watched this football team through the ages. I have experienced the exhilaration and sheer joy from the 19-0 defeat of Nebraska to the the dismantling of Ryan Leaf’s unstoppable Washington St. Cougars. I have also dealt with defeat—coming from the biggest loss in program history in the “Granddaddy of Them All” in Pasadena against Ohio State to a heartbreaking loss to Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and the USC Trojans in front of the College GameDay crew when the Devils led 21-0 at halftime.
There have been so many ups and downs that I keep a neck brace at the ready because one never knows when this train will veer suddenly off course…and then right itself just as suddenly.
It would be one thing, if the Sun Devils were consistently bad—they’re not. If they were, like a certain team down south, I would know not to get all worked up for a big game broadcast live in front of God and country. I would simply do what they do in Tucson…wait for basketball season.
How about that Jahii Carson?