(Photo: Jannah Din/WCSN)
Arizona State rebounded from a dreadful game last week and a less-than-stellar first quarter tonight to defeat USC, 62-41. The Sun Devils offense was explosive throughout the evening, and while the defense was exposed at times, they were also opportunistic for the first time all season forcing several turnovers and scoring on one of them.
It was over when: Alden Darby, the Trojan killer, picked off a 3rd quarter Cody Kessler pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown. The score came right after ASU took the lead on a 74-yard D.J. Foster catch and run for a touchdown. This extended the Sun Devils lead to 34-21. Arizona State would score two more times in the quarter, leading 48-21 heading to the 4th, and USC never recovered.
Player of the Game: Arizona State fans can stop worrying about D.J. Foster. The sophomore finally broke out, rushing nine times for 50 yards and catching three passes for 80 yards and a huge touchdown. The Sun Devils finally used Foster in the same fashion he was used last year, and it provided a great change-of-pace to the offense and opened up the playbook.
Biggest Concern: The rush defense was shredded by USC, who saw both young running backs, Tre Madden and Justin Davis, break 120 yards. Madden averaged 6.4 yards per carry and had a touchdown, while Davis exploded onto the scene with 122 yards and 3 touchdowns on 12.2 yards per carry. The good news for the Sun Devils is they only play one more power running team this season. The bad news is that team is Notre Dame, next weekend. Clearly the Sun Devils missed Jaxon Hood and the depth was hurt across the defensive line. Someone must step up next week.
Unsung Hero: Chris Coyle is back for the Sun Devils, and what a great sight it is. Coyle had five receptions for 87 yards and blocked well all night. His big catch on Arizona State’s opening drive set the tone for what the game plan would be all night. Kudos to Coyle for being patient through the first three games and capitalizing on his chances tonight.
Stat of the Game: 4. The Sun Devils forced four turnovers, including three interceptions of Trojan quarterback Cody Kessler, one of which was returned for a score. I wrote before the game about how this needed to be a statement game from the defense, and while they were burned on the ground and gave up 41 points to a team that hasn’t scored abundantly against lesser opponents, the defense did force key turnovers that helped swing the game in the Sun Devils direction.
What’s Next? The Sun Devils travel to Dallas to battle Notre Dame at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, aka Jerry World. The Sun Devils won’t score this much against the Irish, but the same is probably true for the other side as well. It should be an exciting game.