ASU senior quarterback Danny Sullivan hooked up with senior wide receiver Chris McGaha 15 times for 165 yards on his way to 338 total passing yards on Saturday.
Both were career highs for the seniors, but they came in a 28-17 loss to Oregon State, where the Sun Devils were outcoached and outplayed.
Ultimately, statistics are just that: statistics.
And football is not played on paper, nor is the game won or lost based on the performance of one player.
But Sullivan’s effort on Saturday evening was mired in futility.
The initial consensus this season was that all Sullivan had to do is manage the game and let his defense keep the offense within striking distance.
However, this approach to winning the game is severely flawed.
Its presumptive nature breeds an attitude of passiveness and a lack of desire to achieve greatness, especially when the defense comes out and lays an egg like they did in the first half against the Beavers.
Simply protecting the ball and hoping that the defense will come up with some big plays is not enough.
In this type of protect-the-ball offense, there will come times when the quarterback has to make big throws.
And with all the yards that Sullivan put up against OSU, not one of those completions was the big one that the Sun Devils desperately needed.
Instead, it was just another bad pass in a slew of overthrown, underthrown and anywhere-but-the-receiver’s- hands balls.
The student section quickly grew tired of Sullivan’s bland outing and showered him with chants of “We want Brock!” as he dejectedly trudged off the field.
The pain was evident in his eyes as he dragged his battered body into the press conference following the game.
And there was a collective feeling of pain among the media members after listening to Sullivan assess his performance by saying, “I thought it went pretty well.”
No, Danny, it did not.
Questions about his state of mind and whether or not he expected to keep his starting job led the beleaguered quarterback to abruptly stop the questioning and leave the room.
The thing that Sullivan needs to understand is that these types of questions and criticism from the fans come with being the quarterback at a Pac-10 school — a sentiment echoed by ASU coach Dennis Erickson.
“If you are going to play that position, that’s the territory,” Erickson said.
And for Sullivan, it is time for some serious reflection.
There are eight Pac-10 games left for Sullivan to assert himself as the Sun Devils’ quarterback.
He needs to accept, however, that when he plays poorly, people are going to get restless.
Saturday’s loss was by no means Sullivan’s fault alone, but he damaged his team’s chances immensely.
Sullivan needs to suck it up and prove people wrong instead of moping around like someone stole his puppy after they get on him for an inferior performance.
He should use the chants and boos as motivation, because if he loses confidence in himself, there is no coming back.
If this is something that Sullivan wants to turn around, Erickson will certainly give him the opportunity.
But freshman Brock Osweiler is waiting in the wings, and at some point this season, the future may be now.