Ask and you shall receive.
After weeks of badgering ASU football coach Dennis Erickson to make a switch at the quarterback position, the Sun Devils’ fan base finally got a chance to see exactly what it has been yearning for.
And when freshman quarterback Brock Osweiler checked in for the injured senior Danny Sullivan late in the first half of Saturday’s game, those fans let him know how intoxicated with joy they were with a rousing standing ovation and one of the loudest cheers witnessed in Sun Devil Stadium this season.
Not exactly the classiest move by the ASU faithful to elicit the biggest cheer of the season when its starting quarterback is forced to leave the game because of an injury. But then again, class is often left at the ticket window in Tempe.
Less than one month ago, the fans sent Sullivan to the locker room chanting his name following a breathtaking win over Washington.
So, this most recent gesture makes it seem tougher to play quarterback at ASU than for a professional team in New York.
The fans’ reaction is also troubling, considering Osweiler’s only significant playing time during the conference season came against Stanford, and he looked less than impressive.
But after USC turned the ball over on downs on the ensuing drive, Sullivan was reinserted back into the lineup with a 3-0 lead on the No. 12 team in the nation.
All he had to do was play smart and keep his team in the game, as it appeared the defense would, once again, do the rest.
But this task proved too much for Sullivan when he stared down senior wide receiver Kyle Williams and USC senior safety Will Harris made a read that seemed easier than thumbing through the “Goosebumps” series.
Harris took his pick with a side of six points, as he scampered into the end zon á la Deion Sanders.
Why Sullivan was even allowed to take another snap in that game is perplexing.
It was the second of two of the worst interceptions he has thrown all year, and this one cost his team the biggest win of the Dennis Erickson era.
But Sullivan’s final drive of the first half was likely his last in the Maroon and Gold.
It is difficult not to feel bad for the guy, too.
The Sun Devils are a few plays away from being a 7-2 team with wins against Georgia, Cal and USC. And if that were the case, the quarterback controversy would be nonexistent.
That is the nature of the position, though: What have you done for me lately?
And lately, Sullivan has done nothing.
Osweiler was by no means spectacular, but he brings an element to the position that Sullivan simply cannot.
“He did what he needed to do to help us win,” senior wide receiver Chris McGaha said of Osweiler.
That is something Sullivan has struggled with mightily.
He also led the most balanced drive of the season for ASU, in which he displayed that extra ability.
On a third-and-three play at the Trojans’ 29-yard line, Osweiler was flushed out of the pocket and pulled a nifty spin move out of his bag of tricks to get the first down and keep the drive alive before connecting with McGaha for a 23-yard touchdown.
“They were in a single-safety set, and I was just trying to move him over to the left side of the field a little bit to give Chris [McGaha] more room to work and make the play a little easier on us,” Osweiler said.
Again, that is something Sullivan has shown deficiencies in by often engaging in staring contests with his receivers.
He even outplayed his highly touted adversary on the other sideline — USC freshman Matt Barkley — in a little more than one half of work.
This is further proof of the importance of the position.
Although USC was ranked No. 12 going into Saturday’s game, it is clearly having a down year due to inexperienced quarterback play in an extremely tough and underrated conference.
And the Sun Devils’ troubles at the position have likely cost them a bowl berth.
Sullivan had his shot this year, and when he lumbered toward the locker room following Saturday’s loss, he could not pull his white baseball cap low enough to hide the expression that clearly showed he has relinquished the job.
Osweiler may not even win another game this season as the starting quarterback, but the learning experience will prove invaluable.
For a senior who waited three years for his first start, Sullivan’s learning days have expired.
And, sadly, his playing days have, too.
Reach Erik at firstname.lastname@example.org.