Too little too late from shorthanded Sun Devils in road loss to Washington State
The Arizona State Sun Devils failed to show up in a 28-18 loss to the Washington State Cougars on Saturday.
The subfreezing temperature and fog at Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash., on what was supposed to be a sunny, 37-degree day didn’t help either.
And as a result, ASU’s hopes of bowl eligibility and postseason football are officially over.
“We didn’t execute up front and I’ll take the blame for that because we didn’t put ourselves in the right situations,” interim head coach Shaun Aguano told reporters postgame. “And then our defense had to be on the field too much.
“It was just (a) lack of execution on my part and lack of execution on third downs (3-for-14). We knew they were going to bring pressure. We had to win those one-on-one battles and convert and we didn’t. So we put ourselves in situations we shouldn’t be in.”
However, the Sun Devils were extremely shorthanded, with the likes of starting senior linebacker Kyle Soelle, who leads the Pac-12 Conference in tackles, ruled out pregame due to an upper extremity injury.
Starting cornerback Ro Torrence, who leads the team in pass breakups, and backup CB Isaiah Johnson were also both unavailable with illness.
“We’re playing on [empty] right now with our personnel, but they don’t quit and they’re going to play hard,” Aguano said.
“We are really banged up, but those guys who came in I thought did really, really well, and they had fun playing. They worked all this five, six months practicing, and now, they have a chance to play and I thought they did well.”
A bug has been going around the football program that saw starting defensive linemen Nesta Jade Silvera and Omarr Norman-Lott have to exit the loss to UCLA in the first half.
Arizona State was already without starting left guard LaDarius Henderson, who missed his fourth straight game due to a finger injury that he sustained against Washington. The offensive lineman will be participating in the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl in February.
Then once the game kicked off, ASU long snapper John Ferlmann was ejected for targeting and starting quarterback Trenton Bourguet exited in the second quarter due to a leg injury.
QB Emory Jones took over signal calling duties in the second quarter and led the team to its first points of the day on a 47-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jalin Conyers, his fourth of the season.
— State of the Sun Devils (@AZSportsDevils) November 12, 2022
“We tried to simplify it a little bit, especially when we were dropping back passing and then I thought they did a good job containing that front line,” Aguano said. “With Trenton out, Emory came in and he did what he needed to do.
“We went down and didn’t score that one time in the red zone so we would have had a chance to score four touchdowns. Playing from behind was too much and we didn’t have any time left to catch up.”
Jones completed the contest with 186 yards and two touchdown passes on 65% passing (15-for-23) in just over a half of play. Bourguet was only in the game long enough to go 3-for-10 for 26 yards and one interception.
The Sun Devils managed to score two more touchdowns thanks to a 1-yard run by Xazavian Valladay and a 9-yard catch by Elijhah Badger, but it was too little too late from Aguano and Co.
“The first half wasn’t our brand of football at all,” Valladay told reporters postgame. “I feel like we came with no energy. We know we’ve got to play a better half.
“All we could do was just stick together, ask more of our teammates to put their best foot forward. Come out and just have fun. I didn’t think we played a good first half. It came back and bit us and we just had the put that behind us and finish out the second.”
Badger finished with 48 yards on five receptions (10 targets) with the lone TD.
Valladay was the game’s leading rusher with 134 ground yards on 21 touches (6.4 per carry) for the one score.
“He’s the guy that is our vocal leader,” Aguano said. “He had a compliment at the end of the third quarter before the fourth quarter, the referee came up to me and said that No. 1, not only is he positive in our group (but) he’s positive to those other guys in making sure that the game is clean and everybody’s playing hard.
“He’ll have a nice career after this college football season is done,” he added.
The interim head coach elected to not attempt any extra points and instead went 0-for-3 on two-point conversions
Arizona State also went 0-for-2 on onside kick attempts, both of which failed to go 10 yards.
ASU hosts Oregon State next Saturday at 12:15 p.m. on Arizona Sports 98.7, the Arizona Sports app and ArizonaSports.com.