CFN Take: Arizona State Loses Fight With AZ

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 28, 2014


2014 Arizona State Sun Devils ... Head Coach: Todd Graham

2014 Arizona State Sun Devils 

2014 Schedule
Record: 9-3

Aug. 28 Weber State W 45-14
Sep. 6 at New Mexico W 58-23
Sep. 13 at Colorado W 38-24
Sep. 20 OPEN DATE
Sep. 25 UCLA L 62-27
Oct. 4 at USC W 38-34
Oct. 11 OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 Stanford W 26-10
Oct. 25 at Washington W 24-10
Nov. 1 Utah W 19-16 OT
Nov. 8 Notre Dame W 55-31
Nov. 15 at Oregon St L 35-27
Nov. 22 Washington St W 52-31
Nov. 28 at Arizona L 42-35
Nov. 28 at Arizona 42, Arizona State 35
And You Care Because … With UCLA losing to Stanford, Arizona took the Pac-12 South title with three touchdown runs from Nick Wilson and Anu Solomon touchdown passes to Samajie Grant from 69 and 20 yards out. The second scoring pass gave the Wildcats a 14 point lead midway through the fourth, and they needed the advantage with Mike Bercovici throwing his second touchdown pass of the fourth quarter on a nine-yard play to De’Marieya Nelson with just over five minutes to play. ASU had one last chance, but the drive stalled. Taylor Kelly threw two touchdown passes for ASU in the second quarter to tie it at 21, and then Wilson took over in the third with his two scores. Each defense came up with two takeaways, with each returning a fumble to start out the scoring at seven.
What Else? Arizona LB Scooby Wright made 13 tackles with five tackles for loss and a forced fumble
- Arizona RB Nick Wilson ran 24 times for 178 yards and three scores
- Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly completed 13-of-22 passes for two touchdowns, and Mike Bercovici completed 14-of-22 passes for 123 yards and two scores with a pick
- Time of possession: Arizona State 35:54 – Arizona 24:06
Game Rating: B

Nov. 22 at Arizona State 52, Washington State 31
And You Care Because … It took a little while, but Arizona State finally busted through in the second half. Washington State stayed in the game on two Luke Faulk touchdown passes and a one-yard run, but D.J. Foster ran for a 17-yard score and Taylor Kelly threw two touchdown passes to keep pace in the first half. The floodgates opened in the second half on two Foster touchdown runs and two more Kelly touchdown passes on the way to a 52-24 lead. Cameron Smith caught scoring passes from 42 and five yards out.
What Else? Turnovers: Washington State 5 – Arizona State 0
- Washington State QB Luke Falk completed 45-of-74 passes for 601 yards and three scores with four picks
- Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly completed 15-of-25 passes for 232 yards and four scores
- Washington State WR Vince Mayle caught 15 passes for 252 yards
Game Rating: C

Nov. 15 at Oregon State 35, Arizona State 27
And You Care Because … Jordan Villamin caught a 67-yard touchdown pass with just under 11 minutes to play to give Oregon State the lead, and Michael Doctor returned an interception 35 yards for a score in the final minutes to finish off the upset. The Beavers got big first quarter touchdown runs from Storm Woods from 78 yards out and Terron Ward from 66 yards away. Arizona State roared back with 21 straight points with a fumble return for a score from Antonio Longino and two Taylor Kelly touchdown passes, but Oregon State’s defense clamped down in the second half outscoring ASU 21-3.
What Else? Oregon State RB Terron Ward ran 19 times for 148 yards and a score, and Storm Woods ran 11 times for 125 yards and a touchdown
- Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly completed 22-of-44 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns with two picks, and ran for 15 yards
- Third down conversions: Arizona State 7-of-17 – Oregon State 1-of-12
- Oregon State QB Sean Mannion completed 19-of-33 passes for 251 yards and two touchdowns with a pick
Game Rating: B+

Nov. 8 at Arizona State 55, Notre Dame 31
And You Care Because … Five takeaways helped Arizona State get up early and survive a late rally. The Sun Devils roared to a 34-3 lead with Taylor Kelly throwing two touchdown passes including a 13-yarder to Jaelen Strong and a 43-yard play to Cameron Smith, and the defense got into the act with Damarious Randall returning an interception 59 yards for a score. It was all Notre Dame for most of the second half with Everett Golson throwing two touchdown passes and Cam McDaniel running for two one-yard scores as part of a 28-point run, but after a 25-yard Amir Carlisle catch to pull the Irish within three, ASU answered with a five-play scoring drive finishing off with Demario Richard’s second touchdown of the day. Notre Dame’s last gasp was thwarted by a Lloyd Carrington pick six, and Kelly finished it off with a two-yard scoring run.
What Else? Turnovers: Notre Dame 5 – Arizona State 1
- Notre Dame QB Everett Golson completed 22-of-41 passes for 446 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions
- Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly completed 17-of-28 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns with an interception
- Arizona State RB D.J. Foster ran 21 times for 120 yards
Game Rating: A

Nov. 1 at Arizona State 19, Utah 16 OT
And You Care Because … In overtime, Utah’s Andy Philips missed with right, but a time out was called, and he missed on his second chance wide left. Arizona State took advantage, winning on a 30-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal. It was a field goal fest, as Gonzalez gave ASU the lead on first quarter field goals from 20 and 45 yards out, but Utah got three from Phillips from 50, 36 and 44 yards out. There was some offensive punch, with Jaelen Strong catching a six-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give ASU a 13-3 lead, but Utah tied it in the third on a four-yard Devontae Booker catch. Down three, Gonzalez tied it late on a 30-yard field goal, and while ASU had one last shot, the Hail Mary attempt was picked off.
What Else? Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly completed 18-of-32 passes for 205 yards and a score and a pick, and ran 14 times for 55 yards
- Utah RB Devontae Booker ran 37 times for 146 yards, and caught two passes for six yards and a score
- Arizona State RB Demario Richard ran 14 times for 116 yards
- Total yards: Arizona State 444 – Utah 241
Game Rating: A-

Oct. 25 Arizona State 24, at Washington 10
And You Care Because … In horrible conditions, Arizona State fought through the rain with Taylor Kelly finding Jaelen Strong with a 16-yard touchdown pass in the second, and hanging it up for Gary Chambers for a seven-yard touchdown with three minutes to play to break a 10-10 tie. Washington fought back after getting down ten with a 63-yard interception return for a score from John Timu and a 23-yard Cameron Van Winkle field goal, but offense sputtered with three turnovers. The Huskies had one last shot, but Armand Perry returned an interception 61 yards for a touchdown.
What Else? Total yards in the blustery conditions: Washington 290 – Arizona State 285
- Back from injury, Arizona State QB Taylor Kelly completed 14-of-25 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns with an interception
- Washington RB Shaq Thompson ran 21 times for 98 yards and caught two passes for 15 yards
- Washington QB Troy Williams completed 18-of-26 passes for 139 yards and two interceptions
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 18 at Arizona State 26, Stanford 10
And You Care Because … It was the Arizona State defense that got the job done, holding Stanford to a 40-yard Jordan Williamson field goal on the way to a 20-3 lead into the fourth quarter. D.J. Foster ran for a score, Jaelen Strong caught a three-yard touchdown pass, and Zane Gonzalez kicked four field goals, with his last two coming after Stanford pulled within ten on a one-yard Patrick Skov run early in the fourth.
What Else? Arizona State QB Mike Bercovici completed 23-of-33 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown
- Stanford WR Ty Montgomery caught six passes for 82 yards, and returned three kickoffs for 57 yards
- Arizona State RB D.J. Foster ran 24 times for a team-leading 59 yards and a score, and caught seven passes for a team-high 92 yards
- Total yards: Arizona State 356 – Stanford 288
Game Rating: C+

Oct. 4 Arizona State 38, at USC 34
And You Care Because … In an insane final four minutes, Arizona State came up with the win on a 46-yard touchdown catch from Jaelen Strong as time expired to cap off the comeback. Down 27-18 late, ASU took the lead on a 21-yard D.J. Foster run. 51 seconds later, USC answered with a 53-yard Javorius Allen run. 19 seconds later, Cameron Smith helped ASU pull within two – after the extra point – on a 73-yard touchdown grab. USC couldn’t get a first down and had to punt, and Mike Bercovici went to work with a 26-yard pass to Gary Chambers to set up the game-winning heave.
What Else? Arizona State QB Mike Bercovici completed 27-of-45 passes for 510 yards and three touchdowns, and Jaelen Strong caught ten passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns
- USC RB Javorius Allen ran 29 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns
- Arizona State ran 22 times for 30 yards, USC ran 50 times for 220 yards and three scores
- Time of possession: USC 37:18 – Arizona State 22:42
Game Rating: A

Sept. 25 UCLA 62, at Arizona State 27
And You Care Because … Down 17-6 early in the second quarter, UCLA stepped up with the start of a massive explosion, going on a 56-10 run starting with a 80-yard touchdown pass play to Eldridge Massington. ASU appeared to be ready to close out the first half strong, but Ishmael Adams returned a Mike Bercovici pass 95 yards for a touchdown in the final seconds for a ten point Bruin lead, and the rout was on. UCLA needed one play to start the second half with a score, with Jordan Payton taking a Brett Hundley pass 80 yards for a touchdown, and following a 24-yard Zane Gonzalez field goal for ASU, Adams struck again with a kickoff return for a score. Hundley finished up with a four-yard scoring pass to Payton and a one-yard touchdown run.
What Else? UCLA QB Brett Hundley completed 18-of-23 passes for 355 yards and four touchdowns and ran eight times for 72 yards and a score.
- Arizona State QB Mike Bercovici completed 42-of-68 passes for 488 yards and three touchdowns with a pick.
- UCLA WR Jordan Payton caught five passes for 151 yards and two scores, and Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong caught 12 passes for 146 yards
- ULCA RB Paul Perkins ran 14 times for 137 yards
Game Rating: B

Sept. 13 Arizona State 38, at Colorado 24
And You Care Because … Arizona State won the battle, but might have lost a key part with QB Taylor Kelly getting knocked out with a foot injury. The Sun Devils had a fight after getting up 17-0, with Colorado getting back in the game with two Sefo Liufau touchdown passes, but D.J. Foster scored his second touchdown of the day, and Kelly ran for a 50-yard score and hit Jaelen Strong on a one-yard touchdown pass before getting knocked out for the game.
What Else? Colorado outgained Arizona State 545 yards to 426, but turned the ball over three times. ASU didn’t give it away.
- Arizona State RB D.J. Foster ran 20 times for 147 yards and a score. Taylor Kelly completed 13-of-21 passes for 195 yards and three scores, and ran six times for 70 yards and a touchdown.
- Colorado QB Sefo Liufau completed 31-of-46 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns with two picks.
- Colorado RB Christian Powell ran 11 times for 118 yards.
Game Rating: B-

Sept. 6 Arizona State 58, at New Mexico 23
And You Care Because … Arizona State jumped out to a 22-0 first quarter lead on one-yard runs from Deante Lewis and Kalen Ballage and a 12-yard Taylor Kelly scoring dash. New Mexico fought its way back with touchdown runs from Jhurell Pressley and Crusoe Gongbay and a 32-yard Teriyon Gipson scoring grab to pull within eight, but ASU pulled away with 17 straight points helped by a 41-yard Cameron Smith touchdown catch.
What Else? Arizona State might have suffered a little bit of a lull, but it finished with 621 yards of total offense. New Mexico ended with 337.
- New Mexico isn’t built to comeback, but it did. Lamar Jordan completed 7-of-11 passes for 130 yards and a score, and the ground game ran for 207 yards and two scores averaging 3.6 yards per carry.
- Arizona State RB D.J. Foster ran 19 times for 216 yards and a score. The Sun Devil offensive line was terrific, pounding away for 423 yards and six touchdowns for a ground game that averaged 8.8 yards per carry.
- New Mexico held on to the ball for almost 35 minutes, but Arizona State kept striking quickly.
Game Rating: C

Aug. 28 at Arizona State 45, Weber State 14
And You Care Because … Arizona State jumped all over Weber State for a 31-0 halftime lead and was up 38-0 before finally giving up a touchdown late in the third. D.J. Foster ran for three scores and Taylor Kelly combined with Gary Chambers for an eight-yard scoring pass.
What Else? This was hardly a proper test for the Arizona State defense, but it was a chance to get in some live reps and start to figure out what it has. Salamo Fiso led the way with seven tackles and a sack.
- What will the Sun Devils do without Marion Grice? D.J. Foster ran 15 times for 147 yards and three scores. The passing game was terrific with Jaelen Strong catching ten passes for 146 yards.
- With New Mexico’s running game up next, there won’t be any worries about the secondary, but there can’t be a better performance – the offense did just about everything right.
Game Rating: D-

2014 Arizona State Preview

For the first time since becoming the head coach, Todd Graham needs to do a little rebuilding in Tempe.

Arizona State is coming off a breakthrough season in which it won 10 games, finished ranked No. 20 and represented the South Division in the Pac-12 title game. Staying hot, though, won’t be so easy for the Sun Devils, which are parting with a handful of their top players, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Under Graham, ASU has attacked on defense, creating a constant flow of sacks, turnovers and big plays. The approach will be the same, especially after Graham hired longtime friend Keith Patterson to coordinate the D. The players carrying out the blueprint for mayhem, though, will be very different. Eight Sun Devils earned some level of All-Pac-12 honors in 2013. All eight are gone, including Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Will Sutton, which will force the staff to develop a whole new set of regulars between now and opening day.

ASU has excelled at signing and quickly implementing JUCO transfers into the system. It’s a good thing, too, because the Sun Devils will need immediate reinforcements to complement returning veterans, such as DE Marcus Hardison, DT Jaxon Hood, LB Salamo Fiso and FS Damarious Randall. With so many newcomers set to descend upon campus, it’s going to be a crucial summer for the defensive staff and the defensive personnel.

As the defense is busy finding its rhythm, the offense will be fine-tuning one of the Pac-12’s elite attacks. No drop-off is expected from a Mike Norvell-coordinated attack that averaged almost 40 points a game last season. Dual-threat QB Taylor Kelly is back to commandeer the offense, with ample support from top receiver Jaelen Strong and versatile RB D.J. Foster. Plus, the O-line has a higher than usual ceiling now that Auburn transfer Christian Westerman has joined all-star Jamil Douglas on the left side.

The Sun Devils have momentum; first 10-win season in six years. First Pac-12 title game appearance. Back-to-back wins over rival Arizona, including last November’s 58-21 rout. Keeping the momentum going in 2014, though, will require some heavy lifting on the defensive side of the ball. The D is essentially starting over, a year after allowing at least 30 points to seven different opponents. As Patterson’s unit goes, so goes ASU’s chances of repeating as the South Division champ in 2014.

What to watch for on offense: Full Nelson. QB Taylor Kelly doesn’t possess a cannon, so he’s at his best throwing quick slants that allow his playmakers to make plays. The quarterback is going to love working on a more extensive basis with senior TE De’Marieya Nelson, a second-year transfer from San Joaquin (Calif.) Delta Community College. Nelson debuted with seven catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns, two rushing scores and enough big plays on special teams to earn honorable mention All-Pac-12. Now that starter Chris Coyle has graduated, Nelson is eyeing a more prominent role that’ll earn him additional touches and a groundswell of attention from NFL scouts.

What to watch for on defense: Welcome, newcomers. Get a good look at the post-spring depth chart. And then crumple it up and throw it out. The competition for jobs won’t get serious until everyone arrives, especially the junior-college standouts, DT Dalvon Stuckey, DE Darrius Caldwell and CB Kweishi Brown. True freshmen defensive linemen Connor Humphreys and Tashon Smallwood will also have the training wheels ripped off in August. One rookie who’s gotten a head start on everyone else is precocious LB D.J. Calhoun. The gifted four-star recruit participated in spring, and is in the hunt for the starting job at weakside.

The team will be far better if … it becomes more effective in the red zone. Arizona State was a marginal red-zone team in 2013, both offensively and defensively. With Kelly, a seasoned veteran at the controls, the Sun Devils surprisingly ranked ninth in Pac-12 touchdown efficiency, a central reason PK Zane Gonzalez led the nation in field goals. The D also ranked No. 9 in the league, a standing that could worsen in 2014 considering the wholesale changes the unit is facing this season.

The Schedule: The Sun Devils have an easy start with Weber State and going to New Mexico, and they need it. Starting out the Pac-12 season against Colorado is good, but it’s on the road before getting a week off to prepare for a huge two-game, South-making stretch against UCLA and at USC. They get another week off to prepare for a run of three home games in four weeks hosting Stanford, Utah and Notre Dame and going to Washington. The biggest plus? There’s no Oregon from the North. There’s another great stretch of three home games in four, and the team only leaves the state of Arizona once over the final give games with Notre Dame and Washington State coming to Tempe and the regular season finale at Arizona.

Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Taylor Kelly. Kelly has been an improbable gem for the ASU program as the starter the past two years. Sure, he’s put up terrific numbers worthy of All-Pac-12 honors. But it’s been his leadership that’s really helped to elevate the offense—and the program—to higher ground. Kelly possesses most of the characteristics that a coaching staff seeks in its quarterback; he’s poised, smart, versatile and commands the respect of his teammates. In a word, Kelly is a winner, who can beat defenses with his arm, his feet and his head.

Best Defensive Player: Senior FS Damarious Randall. At this time last year, Randall was a newcomer from the junior-college ranks, a luxury coming off the bench. As the 2014 season approaches, he’s one of the Sun Devils’ most instrumental defenders. Randall is the lone returning regular from a depleted secondary and the only projected senior starter at the conclusion of spring drills. His best attribute is his versatility and range. He’ll ball-hawk from one sideline to the other, whether he stays at field safety or moves to cornerback this summer.

Key player to a successful season: Defensive coordinator Keith Patterson. Yeah, yeah, Patterson’s eligibility ran out almost three decades ago. But there’s little doubt he’s a key person to a successful season. Todd Graham hired his former college roommate to help rebuild a defense that’ll be the Sun Devils’ biggest stumbling block this season. With so many first-time players set to crack the two-deep this summer, it’ll be up to Patterson and his assistants to coach the kids up and make sure they’re gelling as a cohesive unit prior to the opener. Both will be tall orders considering the tight window the staff and players will have together.

The season will be a success if ... the Sun Devils win nine games. Of course, the bar is set at returning to the Pac-12 title game. But it’s a lofty pursuit in a year that the defense has been gutted to the foundation. Arizona State hasn’t won as many as 19 games in consecutive seasons since 1996-97. If the program can achieve that milestone this season, it’ll confirm the direction that it’s headed under Todd Graham. With UCLA, USC and even Arizona from the South Division on upward swings, ASU wants to be sure not lose any ground in 2014.

Key game: Sept. 25 vs. UCLA. In all likelihood, the Sun Devils will be 3-0 by the time the Bruins visit Tempe for the first in a handful of pivotal games that’ll decide the South Division crown. Arizona State will get a visit from Weber State and trips to New Mexico and Colorado to fine-tune the rebuilt D. If the staff was successful in the offseason with the defensive makeover, fans will know it in Week 4. If not, Bruin QB Brett Hundley is going to exploit the Devils in front of their home crowd.

2013 Fun Stats:
- Takeaways: Arizona State 33 – Opponents 18
- Red-zone touchdown %: Arizona State 61% – Opponents 65%
- Sacks: Arizona State 40 - Opponents 41

- 2014 Arizona State Preview - What You Need To Know & Top Players


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