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Missing: ASU’s pass defense

Admit it. You were very comfortable with Arizona State traveling up to
Pullman [the Timbuktu of the Pac-12] to take on a Cougars’ team that was
circling the drain and had lost 5 straight games.

Snow? No problem. Bring it on. There’s no way the Sun Devils will let
something like a little frozen precipitation derail them from getting back
into
the win column after a lackluster and gut-wrenching loss [Dennis
Erickson’s
words] at UCLA last week.

Oh, so Washington State is going to play their third-string redshirt
freshman
quarterback, who weighs 179 pounds soaking wet, just to see what he’s
got?
Perfect. ASU’s hungry and embarrassed defense should feast on this kid.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Connor Halliday, who had thrown 19 passes in his collegiate career before
Saturday night, absolutely torched ASU’s defense, going 27 of 36 for 494
yards with four touchdown passes as Washington State beat Arizona
State 37-27.

Halliday’s passing yardage total was the highest in the Pac-12 this season,
and Washington State’s 503 yards through the air [Marshall Lobbestael
threw for 9 yards] was the most ever given up by a Dennis Erickson-
coached ASU team. Nobody had ever thrown for 400 yards against a Craig
Bray defense since he took over the coordinator job in 2007.

We should have known it was going to be a long night when Halliday’s first
pass of the night connected with Marquess Wilson, who was completely
uncovered and scored on an 85-yard touchdown. Cornerback Deveron
Carr released his man to a safety in a zone
coverage. The only problem was there was no safety anywhere on that side
of the field. Linebacker Anthony Jones was there, and is absolutely no
match for the speedy Wilson.

Last week at UCLA, Carr gave up a similar play in the early stages of the
2nd half, where he bit hard on a play-action fake from Bruins’ quarterback
Kevin Prince, leaving Nelson Rosario wide open for a 76-yard touchdown
that put UCLA up 23-14.

So much for correcting your mistakes.

In fact, in the last two gut-wrenching weeks, Rosario of UCLA and Wilson
and Isiah Barton of Wazzu have combined to catch 20 passes for, get ready
for this, 529 yards and 5 touchdowns against the ASU secondary. That’s
26.5 yards per catch, and that is unacceptable.

It makes me cringe at the thought of Arizona coming to town next Saturday
and what they’ll be able to do against a very mediocre secondary that’s also
battling injuries. I mean, U of A has nothing to lose and their quarterback
and wide receivers are superior to what dismantled ASU’s defense on
Saturday in Pullman.

It’s not all on the secondary, either. The Sun Devils’ pass rush got to
Halliday for one sack in his 36 pass attempts.

For the second straight week, the Sun Devils have squandered away control
in the Pac-12 South. They now sit at 6-4 overall and 4-3 in conference.
Two weeks ago, ASU fans were looking forward to the prospect of a 10-2
season and a chance to upset either Oregon or Stanford in the inaugural
Pac-12 Championship Game.

On the very airwaves of Arizona Sports 620, John Gambadoro and Dave
Burns talked with Erickson about the very likely scenario of the 64-year-old
coach receiving a contract extension. Now, after back-to-back ugly losses
on the road to supposedly inferior opponents, Erickson’s job may be in
jeopardy.

Receiver Gerell Robinson, who had another stellar game with a career-high
158 yards and a touchdown on 8 catches, summed it up pretty succinctly.
“I’m just tired of being in this situation time and time again. It’s been like
this for the past three or four years, and it’s getting old. That’s the bottom
line,” he said.

I think the vast majority of ASU fans would agree with you, Gerell.