October 26, 2008

Notebook: ASU unable to stop Oregon run game

Here are some notes from ASU's 54-20 loss to Oregon on Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium.

Run ragged

Oregon rushed for over 300 yards for the fifth time in eight games this season, but it was a balanced attack, and no individual player went for triple digit yards or had double digit carries. Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli had 85 yards and one touchdown on eight carries (10.6 yards per carry); running back Jeremiah Johnson 58 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries (6.4 yards per carry); LeGarrett Blount had 58 yards and two touchdowns on 61 carries. Three other players combined for 99 yards on 14 carries.

Overall, Oregon averaged an astounding 7.1 yards per carry on 43 rushing attempts.

Coming into the game the Ducks were first in the Pac-10 in total rushing yards (1,926), yards-per-game (275.1) rushing touchdowns (25) and yards-per-carry (5.8). They exceeded their season averages in all areas against the Sun Devils.

Duck and cover

The 54-20 throttling on Saturday was Arizona State's worst home loss since the same Oregon program dismantled the Sun Devils 48-13 on Sept. 30, 2006 in a game then-coach Dirk Koetter said was the second most embarrassing he'd ever been apart of as a head coach.

ASU has now lost four games in a row to the Ducks, by a combined 168-73.

The Sun Devils haven't allowed more points at Sun Devil Stadium since losing to Cal 55-38 to Cal in 2002.

Kicked around

Coach Dennis Erickson revealed during a pre-game conversation with ASU play-by-play announcer Tim Healey that he would go with walk-on Trevor Hankins at punter to start the game instead of Thomas Weber, who handled the job exclusively to this point in the season.

Hankins had a 40-yarder go unreturned on his first attempt but shanked his second punt off the right side of his foot out of bounds for a mere 19 yards.

Erickson then switched to Weber, but he didn't perform any better, averaging just 31.7 yards on three punts.

Hankins came out for the team's final punt, near the end of the third quarter, and he uncorked the best kick of the day, 53-yards. Only problem, it was well into the end zone when the Sun Devils were hoping to pin the Ducks deep.

One of the reasons ASU went with Hankins on punt was to allow Weber to focus exclusively on the kicking game, where he has been shaky of late after a dominate freshman campaign in 2007. But that didn't particularly work all that well, as Weber missed a point after try for the first time all year.

Marooned

ASU worse maroon pants with its usual maroon jerseys, going with the all-maroon look for the first time since Nov. 27, 1999, a 42-27 win over rival Arizona.

The wardrobe change didn't appear to achieve the desired emotional response in what was one of the Sun Devils' worst home losses in recent memory.

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