If Saturday night's Arizona State-Stanford game was a video game, Dennis Erickson would have pressed the reset button numerous times during the contest. Unfortunately for the Sun Devils, Stanford racked up video game-like stats against the normally tough ASU defense on Homecoming.
Arizona State had no answer for the Stanford Cardinal offensive attack. Jim Harbaugh seemed to dial up the perfect play each and every down throughout the game. Well, at least the ASU defense made it look that way with their botched coverages and poor tackling.
The two-headed monster that is Toby Gerhart running the ball and Andrew Luck feeding it, proved to be a potent attack that could not be stopped on this particular night, which led to a 33-14 win for Stanford.
Gerhart seemed to be impossible to stop, even when the Sun Devil defense managed to create penetration and stuff the run. Gerhart carried would-be-tacklers for an average of 4.6 yards per carry on the night. The senior running back totaled 125 yards and 1 touchdown on 27 powerful carries.
Without a doubt, the tone was set by Gerhart and the Stanford offensive line.
Although, an unsung hero for the Cardinal has to go to fullback Owen Marecic. The 6'1" junior led the way for Gerhart all night, while leaving the ASU linebackers wondering what just hit them.
Oh yeah, and Marecic also helped out the passing attack, picking up a big 3rd down play that gained 28 yards, to keep the Stanford Cardinal drive alive in the second quarter.
However, when talking about the Stanford air attack, it starts and ends with the red-shirt freshman quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck provided the balance to couple with Toby Gerhart and the Cardinal ground attack that gained 237 yards on the night, while Harbaugh's signal caller threw for 236 yards.
Not too shabby if you ask me.
Although it was all smiles for the Stanford Cardinal, the Arizona State Sun Devils had little to be happy about.
The seventh ranked defense in the country got manhandled up and down the field to the tune of 473 yards. But that wasn't the best part either, the ASU defense was on the field for over 37 minutes during this game, a kudos to Jim Harbaugh's team.
However, the Sun Devils did not help their cause either, tallying ten penalties for 90 yards, usually committing them at costly junctures in the game.
And when the defense forced a punt, which was rare, the offense could not get out of their own way. Erickson's offense seemed to have life last week against Washington, and gave the fans a sense of hope for the rest of the season. However, Saturday night in Palo Alto, the Sun Devils rarely looked like a Pac-10 title contender.
The running game that had sparked the offense in previous weeks managed to gain only 129 yards compared to Stanford's 237. But, the Sun Devils never got into a rhythm with their ground attack. Arizona State was unable to sustain one of those long, ten-play drives for 70 or 80 yards that took six or seven minutes off of the clock. Dennis Erickson's crew was simply out-manned on this particular day.
The passing game looked decent at some points, but when Erickson called for a key third down pass play to keep the drive alive, the Sun Devils were not able to get on the same page. And to be honest, miscommunication, dropped balls, and errant passes should be behind this team by now.
Danny Sullivan has taken the leadership role for this team, and he tried to lead the comeback by throwing two touchdown passes in the second half, to cut the lead to 27-14, but in the end, the defense was unable to contain the Cardinal offense.
This game was billed as a heavyweight fight, but Stanford was the only team that could land a knockout punch. The Sun Devils were just trying to stay alive and not get completely embarrassed on Saturday.
If ASU is to turnaround their season, Erickson has to make sure that his team learns from their mistakes, (i.e. penalties, missed tackles, dropped passes, and errand throws), and forget about the result of this game, because another top ten running back, California's Jahvid Best, will be awaiting his chance to land a punishing blow to the Sun Devils' bowl aspirations.