Arizona State football puts on historically bad performance in loss to Fresno State

Sep 17, 2023, 12:36 AM | Updated: 1:42 am

TEMPE — It was an awful night for Arizona State football at Mountain America Stadium on Saturday.

The Sun Devils, missing starting quarterback Jaden Rashada with an undisclosed injury, struggled offensively on Saturday. They lost 29-0 to Mountain West opponent Fresno State (3-0), who looked like the Power Five team, to fall to 1-2 on the season. It was the first time ASU was shutout at home since a 1988 loss to USC.

Redshirt junior quarterback Trenton Bourguet, who started down the stretch for the Sun Devils in 2022, started the game Saturday. He threw one of the worst interceptions one will ever see on his second pass of the game but would stay in for the second drive. He was moving the ball down the field but left the game and did not return with an ugly-looking apparent left leg injury.

Redshirt Sophomore Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne, who was active for the first time since injuring his hamstring at Camp Tontozona, replaced Bourguet. He proceeded to be strip-sacked on his first play, giving the ball to the Bulldogs.

On Pyne’s second drive of the game, he was again strip-sacked. He lost the fumble once again.

Pyne went on to turn the ball over two more times on the night on interceptions. He threw his first interception of the game late in the first half, giving Fresno State a field goal opportunity. His second interception of the game came with 11:32 left in the third quarter on a deep pass intended for wide receiver Elijhah Badger.

Pyne was replaced by BYU transfer Jacob Conover. According to Dillingham, Pyne left the game due to a muscle injury on the same leg he had the hamstring injury.

Conover was uninspiring. He threw ASU’s fourth and fifth interceptions of the game. His first interception allowed a zero-yard scoring drive by the Bulldogs and his second interception was a heave into triple coverage. His picks were the seventh and eighth Sun Devil turnovers in the matchup as running back Tevin White lost a fumble early in the third quarter.

ASU’s eight turnovers were its most since the Sun Devils turned the ball over seven times against Oregon in 2010.

“I’ve never in my career been involved in a game like that,” said ASU head coach Kenny Dillingham. “… I literally couldn’t even explain how that’s even possible but we’re going to get it fixed. I’m going to get it fixed. That’s a guarantee that I’m going to get that fixed.”

Pyne finished 5-of-13 with 52 yards and four turnovers. Bourguet was 6-of-8 with 47 yards and one turnover. Conover was 6-of-16 with 89 yards and two turnovers.

Defensively, ASU did a good job of limiting the Bulldogs to field goals and had six sacks. The Sun Devils did allow Chandler High School great Mikey Keene to have an excellent game. The Fresno State quarterback was 32-of-49 for 281 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He started the game 14-of-14.

“Our defense fought hard and battled,” Dillingham said. “Eight turnovers, giving up 29 points. That’s remarkable, to be honest.”

Injuries were another huge storyline in the game. An already depleted ASU roster lost multiple players to injury on Saturday. In addition to the quarterbacks, linebacker Clayton Smith, wideout Melquan Stovall, running back Tevin White and tight end Bryce Pierre were hurt in the game. Dillingham said Bourguet will receive an MRI. He said Rashada is out four-to-six weeks with an injury from high school he re-aggravated. He added that the team will probably only play Rashada, a true freshman, in two more games this season to preserve his redshirt. ASU had an opportunity late to potentially score and not be shutout but Dillingham said he did not want to risk another injury to an already decimated offensive line. He remarked that if the Sun Devils had one more injury on the offensive line, they would not be able to practice.

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