“They find ways to lose.”
How many times have you heard that said about Arizona State football? More specifically, how many times have you said it?
In 2010 at Wisconsin, a kick-off return to the 1-yard line at the end of the first half and a blocked extra point. At USC the same year, a blocked extra point returned for a two-point conversion. At home against Oregon, nearly 600 yards of offense but seven turnovers. The famous third-and-29 at UCLA in 2011.
When’s the last time you said Arizona State finds ways to lose?
It is impossible to underestimate the wind’s affect on Saturday’s game in Seattle. Coming into the game, Washington’s defense was the best in the nation at rushing the passer, but not great at defending the pass. If UW didn’t get to the quarterback, the usual result was a sizable gain. The wind was the best defense against the pass. It was impossible for Taylor Kelly to throw the ball down the field. Taking away the deep ball allowed the UW defense to pack the box. The offenses could do very little.
Despite the wind eliminating a Washington weakness, ASU persevered. ASU overcame a terrible coaching decision to go for a fourth-down conversion early in the game when it was clear the game would be a battle of field position. A four-play goal line stand by UW’s defense dramatically switched momentum but did not drop a Sun Devil head on the sideline. Even a botched hold on a second half field goal attempt wasn’t enough to force ASU into submission. Injuries to Christian Westerman and D.J. Foster were not allowed to stop the offense on its drive to break a 10-10 tie.
Sure, there were problems. Kelly didn’t look confident running the football. The defensive line was on skates during the Huskies’ field goal drive. Coach Graham electing to go for it on the first quarter fourth down from midfield was a mistake. Mike Norvell’s consistent decision to go from the shotgun on most goal line plays — including three plays from the one against Washington — will always have me shaking my head. Health is a problem for a few Devils.
I could go on, but why? To this team, each problem is another opportunity to overcome adversity. Any adversity is met with a confidence that will not give in.
With each issue, the Sun Devils seem to find a way to win.