September 23, 2007
Oregon State: Expert observations from press row
This is a new feature we're doing for the first time this season called "observations from press row." It's essentially a review of the important themes and events of the game, with an emphasis on what went right and/or wrong for the Sun Devils in their 44-33 victory over Oregon State.If you had a camera zoomed in to where it could only see the line play, and had watched only that throughout the entire game, you probably would have come away thinking ASU had lost by a good margin. For most of the game, Oregon State did a much better job pressuring Rudy Carpenter than the Sun Devils did pressuring Sean Canfield. The ASU offensive line was flat out dominated and defeated at the point of attack by the Beavers in the entire first half, severely limiting the team's running game. Carpenter was forced out of the pocket on almost half of the team's passing downs, it appeared.
Take ASU coach Dennis Erickson at his word when he says that he doesn't particularly like to blitz a lot. Even though the Sun Devil defensive line had just one sack and wasn't getting consistent pressure on Canfield early, and even as his team went down 19-0, he didn't change his philosophy. Even though Oregon State had over 500 yards of total offense in the game, ASU kept most everything in front of it. Eventually, mistakes would lead to opportunity, Erickson and his staff rightly assumed, it would appear, and that's what happened with Canfield's five turnovers.
Credit the ASU secondary for a job (relatively) well done. The 324 passing yards by Canfield is a bit deceiving because, excluding one or two plays, much of that came on the bubble screen passes the Beavers relentlessly used through the first half and into the third quarter. ASU made a good adjustment to keep Oregon State from running for 8-10 yards a pop after the catch on that play and it forced the team to look to other options, all of which were much less successful. Troy Nolan was very good from his safety position and the cornerbacks kept plays in front of them. Travis Smith got his first real significant, meaningful action in a Pac-10 game and played reasonably well, a 15-yard facemask notwithstanding. The corners do need to do a better job getting off their blocks on those screens, however. There may have been a couple of holding calls that were missed by the officials but nonetheless, guys Justin Tryon, Chris Baloney and Smith have to improve there.
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