If nothing else, Arizona State may have found a running back in its 23-21 loss to the California Golden Bears.
Freshman Cameron Marshall, pressed into action when Dimitri Nance re-injured his shoulder, ran for a game-high 71 yards and a touchown on 16 carries.
“The whole line was doing a great job blocking,” Marshall said, “so we were able to get about five yards a pop every time. That was pretty good.”
Marshall wouldn’t have seen as much action had Ryan Bass not fumbled at California’s 2-yard line in the second quarter.
The turnover angered coach Dennis Erickson, who then turned to the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Marshall.
“I thought Cameron came in and did real well for a young kid,” Erickson said. “He runs hard. He gets tough yardage. He’s going to get better and better.”
ASU used a two tight end formation much of the second half because it was short on receivers. Kerry Taylor didn’t dress because of a hamstring injury, and when T.J. Simpson suffered a high ankle sprain, ASU had to turn to walk-on Brian Matsumoto.
Erickson said he liked the way the Sun Devils ran the ball out of the formation – Danny Sullivan lined up behind center rather than being in the shotgun – and it’s something ASU may have to use again next weekend against USC.
Erickson said Simpson’s injury “doesn’t look good,” and the Devils don’t know if Taylor will be available.
Erickson shrugged off some of ASU’s 11 penalties for 123 yards, but the one that angered him the most was defensive tackle Lawrence Guy being called for unsportsmanlike conduct for spiking the ball after recovering a fumble at California’s 32-yard line early in the first quarter.
The penalty took ASU out of field-goal range, and the Sun Devils gave the ball back after not picking up a first down.
“That one was ridiculous and stupid,” said Erickson, who reiterated that players will benched if they continue to pick up personal fouls.
Sophomore quarterback Samson Szakacsy threw his first career pass Saturday and it resulted in 3-yard touchdown to tight end Jovon Williams.
Szakacsy came in after ASU recovered a fumble at ASU’s 3-yard line. He rolled left and hit Williams coming across the middle.
Erickson said he envisions using Szakacsy more around the goal line because of his mobility.
Szakacsy was the only backup quarterback to see action.
Although Erickson said during the week that Brock Osweiler would play, the freshman never took a snap.
EXTRA POINTS: Danny Sullivan’s 80-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Williams was the Sun Devils’ longest pass play since Andrew Walter hit Derek Hagan for 79 yards against UCLA on Oct. 23, 2004.
Chris McGaha hauled in his 150th career catch early in the fourth quarter.