Arizona State 26, Stanford 10: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
The battle in the desert turned into a one sided affair as the Arizona State Sun Devils shut down the Stanford Cardinal, 26-10.
The Sun Devils had lost to the Cardinal in their previous five meetings, and not one player on the Arizona State roster had ever experienced a win over the Stanford Cardinal.
Arizona State came out strong, and controlled the clock from the opening whistle. Stanford just never seemed to be in sync the entire game as Arizona State dominated the line of scrimmage.
Sun Devils Head Coach Todd Graham had a quandary before the game, as experienced Quarterback Taylor Kelly was able to play after being injured the past few weeks, but decided to go with the hot hand of Junior Mike Bercovici. This paid off for Arizona State as Bercovici made all the right plays, and led the Sun Devils to victory.
Here was the Good, Bad, and Ugly of the game:
Mike Bercovici – The back-up Quarterback played a phenomenal game on Saturday night as he made all of the right plays to keep the tough Stanford defense off balance, and led the Sun Devils to victory. Bercovici did not have the biggest statistical night, but when a first down was needed, it just seemed the Bercovici was always able to get that extra distance to keep the drive alive. Bercovici has played extremely well in place of Taylor Kelly, and some are even starting to point towards a Quarterback controversy over who may be the best option under center for ASU.
DJ Foster – Junior Running Back DJ Foster was a dominant force on offense for the Sun Devils as he was all over the field on Saturday night. Foster had 151 yards from scrimmage, and caused a constant headache for the Stanford defense. Foster was coming off a few weeks were he was never able to gain much yardage, but under the bright lights in Tempe, the cream rose to the top. Foster has tremendous skills, and has the ability to take over any game. Look for Foster to be a major piece for the Sun Devils as they drive towards a possible PAC 12 title game.
Blake Martinez – The only bright spot for the Cardinal on Saturday night was the strong play of Junior Linebacker Blake Martinez. As a native son of Arizona, Martinez was riled up to play against the Sun Devils who did not recruit him out of high school. Martinez had a sack and was in on several tackles to lead the Cardinal on the defensive side of the ball.
Arizona State Front Seven – The College Football world has been raving about the front seven of the Stanford Cardinal, but tonight that designation belonged to the Arizona State Sun Devils. The defensive front of the Sun Devils dominated the line of scrimmage and held the Cardinal to a season low 76 yards rushing.
Stanford Offensive Strategy – Stanford Head Coach David Shaw has always been known to employ a conservative offensive approach, but this week was beyond conservative and it cost the Cardinal. Stanford does not hide the fact that they have a run first approach, but this year, Stanford does not have a “Bell Cow” Running Back that can just take over a game. This is a major hindrance for the Cardinal, as Quarterback Kevin Hogan just does not have the ability to take over a game with his arm. Stanford did have several injuries going into the game, but that does not excuse the poor play on the offensive side of the ball.
Stanford’s Running Back Blocking Issues – Again, Stanford had major issues with its Running Backs picking up the blitz on Saturday evening. Three separate times, Quarterback Kevin Hogan was on his back because the Running Back could not pick up the blitzing defender. This issue caused the Cardinal to be moved out of scoring range twice, and the third time just killed a promising drive. Last week, Coach Shaw stated that there was a focus on the blitz pick up in practice, but was soon forgotten this week.
Stanford Special Teams Turnovers – The strength of the Stanford Cardinal turned into a negative for the team as return men Ty Montgomery and Christian McCaffrey both fumbled the ball on key returns. Montgomery just seemed to be in a funk the entire game, and his fumble on the 10-yard line put the Cardinal down two scores late in the first half, and the Sun Devils never looked back. The Sun Devils were known to have the worst special teams coverage in the PAC 12, but dominated tonight, and were a key factor for the Arizona State victory.