ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL
ASU football ‘not locked in’ for embarrassing home loss to Eastern Michigan
TEMPE — Arizona State was completely outplayed in an embarrassing 30-21 loss at home to Eastern Michigan on Saturday night.
The Sun Devils (1-2), who hadn’t allowed a single point in the first quarter all season, gave up over 300 yards of total offense in the first half en route to a 24-14 halftime deficit. The Eagles (2-1) were also nearly perfect on third down, converting on 9-of-10 conversions to score all three of its touchdowns in the opening two quarters.
Eastern Michigan executed its game plan to perfection by controlling both the line of scrimmage and the clock, which allowed EMU to hold the ball for 19:07 and run 47 plays in the opening two quarters. Compare that to ASU’s 23 plays in 10:53.
The Eagles had 153 passing yards, 154 rushing yards and 17 first downs in the first half, while the Sun Devils only garnered 127 total yards (81 passing, 46 rushing) and five first downs. EMU running back Samson Evans finished the night with over 200 yards and one touchdown run.
“Basically it just boiled down to one thing: we couldn’t stop them from running the football. … They physically got after us, bottom line, on both sides of the football,” head coach Herm Edwards said postgame.
All that from an Eastern Michigan team that came into Saturday night’s contest as the No. 84 ranked offense in the country and had only put up 124 and 41 rushing yards in each of its first two games despite Arizona State winning the turnover battle 1-0 in the first half on a Kejuan Markham interception.
“They just physically dominated us on the offensive line,” Edwards said. “They knocked us off the ball and they ran the football.”
Arizona State’s offense had its fair share of opportunities to make big plays against the Eastern Michigan defense, which came into the ballgame with the No. 121 ranked defense in the nation.
On three separate occasions, ASU missed out on walk-in touchdowns that were a result of either an overthrow from QB Emory Jones or a drop from wide receivers Elijhah Badger and Zeke Freeman.
“You need to capitalize on those. You gotta catch them, you gotta catch those balls,” Edwards said of the missed opportunities. “It’s a different score if you catch the balls. They were hard catches but when you’re in a game like this, you gotta make those catches, no doubt.”
Penalties once again played a theme in plaguing Arizona State’s hope at a comeback. The Sun Devils committed nine penalties for 84 yards, numerous which came at inopportune times, before tight end Jalin Conyer’s fumble on the team’s final drive ended any hope of a comeback.
Jones said postgame that he wasn’t pleased with ASU’s performance in practice this week despite Edwards warning the team of what some were calling a “trap game.”
“I kinda felt like the whole week, the team overall, we weren’t really locked in to the (little) details that we usually are,” he said. “I feel like it showed up today. That’s something we have to be aware of and realize and actually just get better from.”
“I don’t think we took the opponent lightly,” Jones added. “Just us as a team, we weren’t really locked in. I don’t really think it had anything to do with the opponent.”
After suffering a defeat at Sun Devil Stadium to a non-Power 5 conference opponent for the first time since 2008 (UNLV), both Edwards and senior captain left guard LaDarius Henderson said the team needs to find its identity.
And the competition only gets much harder and fiercer from here, as ASU will open up Pac-12 play at home against No. 14 Utah before hitting the road to take on No. 7 USC in Los Angeles.
“We have to find a way to fix it, that’s what I told the team,” Edwards said. “Going forward, you have to figure out who you are now and who you wanna become and where we’re going. That’s the bottom line. It’s gotta get fixed with the players we have.”
“Starting tomorrow, figure out what team we are going forward into Pac-12 play,” Henderson said.
– Starting cornerback Ro Torrence did not play after being listed as a gametime decision.
– Starting defensive lineman Omarr Norman-Lott left the game in the first half with an apparent lower-body injury and did not return.
Arizona State hosts No. 14 Utah on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. to open up Pac-12 play.