Sometimes resiliency is better than efficiency, and so far the Sun Devils have proven that this season. It was yet another inefficient game and it, once again, kept a Devils' opponent in a game that should not have been so close. It's called playing with fire. It's not something you want to do against a Pac-10 opponent.
3rd Down Efficiency
Off. 4 of 9, 44.4%; Def. 6-of-18 33.3%: It was actually not as good as it looks, because San Diego State was 2-for-2 on 4th down, but the numbers on third down are exactly where they need to be. One can only cross their fingers that these numbers hold up over the course of the season.
Ratio: Net zero. What can be said? One more strange pass into no man's land for Carpenter that, for all intents and purposes, was easily forgettable considering the game he had. But the fumbles aren't a promising trend for the future. Nolan picked up an INT for the Devils to even things out. Otherwise, no fumbles. That's progress.
8 penalties, 73 yards: I suppose we should be celebrating here because ASU only had one personal foul. The primary offender was the offensive line with four holds and an illegal block, but watching the game I have to agree with Erickson that this referee staff was calling it differently than the first two games. You just don't see holding called that often when the linemen's hands stay inside the shoulders. ASU had an illegal block, but the refs missed a big chop block on SDSU that I think was the play that put Gerald Munns out for three weeks with a Grade 3 knee ligament sprain. It was a pretty nasty block. Not intentional, but I was aghast no flag was thrown.
Overall grade: C. Better than the Colorado game, but it was still sort of typical of the kind of carelessness we've seen in the out of conference schedule. I'm not expecting this team to set records with efficiency, but these numbers have to improve if they plan on collecting 5 or more wins in the conference. They need to sustain what they're doing on 3rd down and, at the very least, win the turnover battle in a few games without totally blowing it in the rest of the games. I'm going to concede this team -- as with most Erickson teams -- are just going to draw a lot of yellow laundry. You live with it as long as (a) it's not the nasty 15-yard variety and (b) the aggressiveness is also producing the positive kinds of plays that keep spirits high and momentum in maroon and gold.