Scott Bordow: Midway through the second quarter of Arizona State’s 33-14 loss to Stanford Saturday, freshman middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict had as many personal fouls (2) as quarterback Danny Sullivan had completions. Yeah, it was that kind of night.
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Midway through the second quarter of Arizona State’s 33-14 loss to Stanford Saturday, freshman middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict had as many personal fouls (2) as quarterback Danny Sullivan had completions.
Yeah, it was that kind of night.
So much for the momentum the Sun Devils supposedly picked up after victories over Washington and Washington State. In a game that might define its season, ASU was so bad you have to wonder if it will win another game this year.
Here’s the remaining schedule:
See many wins there? Any at all?
It was stupefying to watch ASU get dismantled by a Stanford team that had lost two straight games and was 4-3 overall. The Sun Devils made freshman quarterback Andrew Luck look like John Elway in the decisive first half – here’s an idea; cover a receiver – and ASU’s offense was embarrassingly inept until Stanford went into sleep mode after taking a 24-0 halftime lead.
“It’s very disappointing,” coach Dennis Erickson said. “I thought we’d come out ready to play. There just wasn’t any good.”
Now there’s an understatement.
Once again there will be calls for Sullivan’s head, but that’s far too narrow of a focus to take after this loss. ASU was rotten to the core, and that includes Erickson.
Trailing 17-0 with 4:17 left in the first half, ASU had a fourth-and-4 at Stanford’s 40-yard line. Already, the Sun Devils were in desperation mode. They had to have points.
Yet after calling a timeout, Erickson pulled his offense off the field and punted the ball. It was a passive, fearful decision, and it spoke volumes about the lack of confidence he has in Sullivan.
Oh, and Stanford turned the punt into an 83-yard touchdown drive.
The breadth of Saturday’s loss should turn the burners up on Erickson. It’s simply unacceptable to get blown out by a mediocre Stanford team in a half-empty stadium. Remember the quote athletic director Lisa Love used when she fired Dirk Koetter? She said she wanted the program to have more “competitive traction.”
I’m not sure what that means, but I know what it’s not: a 9-11 record in Erickson’s last 20 games.
Erickson’s job shouldn’t be in jeopardy. He deserves a fourth year no matter how the rest of this season plays out. But given how poorly ASU played Saturday — and how disgusted the fan base has to be — Erickson’s time in Tempe is officially on the clock.
As for the game itself, it’s no surprise the Sun Devils didn’t do much offensively. That’s who they are. It’s not like Sullivan will turn into Andrew Walter anytime soon.
It was ironic, however, that after Sullivan’s best throw of the night — a 40-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Simpson in which he hung in there and took a vicious hit — he had to leave the game because of a knee injury.
Freshman Brock Osweiler came in with less than eight minutes left and was 1-for-7 for 18 yards, blunting any quarterback controversy that might have arisen.
The stunner was Stanford gaining 486 total yards against ASU’s defense. ASU failed to stop running back Toby Gerhart — with 125 rushing yards, he became the first back to hit triple digits against the Sun Devils this year — and its pass coverage was nonexistent. There were so many blown assignments it was hard to tell who was at fault.
Then there’s Burfict.
He was flagged for a personal foul when he leaped and came down on a Stanford player as he tried to block a field goal attempt in the first quarter. It was his fourth personal foul in two weeks — he would pick up a fifth later in the game.
Burfict’s reaction to the penalty, however, was worse than the infraction itself. He stood on the sideline while the entire defense gathered on the field during a Stanford timeout. Then, when the defense sat down after Stanford kicked a field goal for a 10-0 lead, he stood by himself for several minutes before finally joining his teammates on the bench.
Burfict is a great talent, but he needs to grow up and calm down.
It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd ASU gets for its Halloween day game against California. This kind of loss won’t be forgotten in six days, and fans aren’t stupid: They see who’s left on the schedule.
And after 33-14, those five games look like the final five lines of a death notice.