Updated Nov 10, 2013 - 8:33 am
Just find a way
Utah is a bad team on the road. But when they are in Salt Lake City, they are very tough. Just ask David Shaw and The Cardinal.
The Utes had the second longest streak in the nation for holding halftime leads heading into Saturday's contest against the Sun Devils. They had won 49 straight games when they started the second half on top. They will now have to start a new streak due to the Devils' comeback.
But give them credit. There's a reason their defense has the second-most sacks in the country.
However, wins do not hide issues. Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona will pore over this film.
This was, by far, the worst game of the year for ASU's offensive line. For three and a half quarters, the front five of Arizona State gave no hope for Taylor Kelly.
The double moves for wide receivers were completely gone.
Grice and Kelly found little room to run.
It didn't go according to the game plan, but ASU won for a very simple reason: their offense is just too good for any defense to completely lock them down for four quarters. The key was the defense keeping ASU in the game long enough for the offense to finally click.
The defense had played well the entire game when it came to holding Utah, points-wise. The struggle was yards. The combination of QB runs for Wilson and the incredible punting killed ASU in the field position game. With the offense struggling to protect the quarterback, they could not move the football on long drives. So much credit goes to the ASU defense because today was their day.
In the end, good teams find ways to win.
How often in past ASU games were there breakdowns all over the place? If the defense played well, the offense never put it together or would even turn the ball over. If the offense was scoring left and right, special teams would suffer blocked punts for touchdowns or short fields. Every way a football game can be lost, bad teams find a way to do it. Obviously, the opposite is true for good teams.
ASU did not get lucky against Wisconsin. ASU did not get lucky against Utah. ASU is a good football team and good football teams win football games.
Good football teams out-gain their opponents 171 yards to 17 in the fourth quarter.
Good football teams force two fourth quarter interceptions.
Good football teams win two straight on the road.
The lesson of never panicking has been reinforced. Some of the defensive mis-alignments that plagued ASU early in the year popped up at times against Utah but were much more quickly rectified.
If ASU was playing for a national championship, this wasn't good enough because you have to win pretty against bad teams. When you're in the second year of the tenure of your head coach and you've got one conference loss to one of the best teams in the country with only three games remaining -- and two of those remaining games are at home -- you're completely out-pacing the norm.
As the great ("great" in a Hollywood sense) Hickory High School head coach Norman Dale said in Hoosiers, "This is your team."
The Pac-12 South goes through Tempe.
Doug Franz, Co-host of Doug & Wolf
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