ASU’s offense struggled to find it’s rhythm against the Washington State Cougars on Saturday. WSU handed the Sun Devils a 37-32 homecoming game loss in Tempe.
Starting quarterback Manny Wilkins was on fire during the opening drive of the game. On the team’s first possession, he led the Sun Devils’ offense on an 11 play drive ending with him scoring on the ground from 3 yards out. His fifth rushing TD of the season gave ASU an early 7-0 lead.
However, Wilkins was sacked and injured later in the 1st quarter. The 3rd year QB would never return to the game.
Coach Todd Graham then relied on Dillon Sterling-Cole to lead the offense for the remainder of the game. The fourth string QB completed 7 of 16 passes for 86 yards. Those numbers seem fitting for a freshman QB, but it was obvious the timing and cohesiveness was not there.
After the game, Coach Graham had this to say about his young QB. “I’m extremely proud of the freshman. I thought he did a great job.”
RB Kalen Ballage, who finished with 82 yards on 12 attempts and 1 TD, was the focal point of the offense in the second half. Most of his carries and yardage came with ASU running their “Sparky” set.
Defensively, the Sun Devils entered the game ranked last against the pass. That, along with several key injuries, allowed WSU Quarterback Luke Falk to throw for nearly 400 yards while completing 42 of 53 pass attempts and 3 touchdowns.
Much of the buzz leading into Saturday’s game was centered on allegations made by Cougars’ head coach Mike Leach. Earlier in the week, Leach raised the issue of the ASU program going to great lengths to steal opponents’ signs and signals. Those comments resulted in a $10,ooo fine by the Pac-12 governing body.
When asked about his post-game comments to coach Graham, Leach simply replied “I respectfully decline on grounds that I might be publicly reprimanded and fined, so any questions about them I really don’t plan to answer”.
After starting the season 4-0, the Sun Devils have loss 3 of their last 4 games pushing their record to 5-3 for the season.
Photo Gallery: All photos by Kevin C Cox/ CORE360 Sports