ASU football employs silver linings playbook in loss to No. 6 Washington

The Sun Devils showed heart early and fought back late, but it wasn't enough against the Huskies

SEATTLE– “We good."

Those two words from redshirt sophomore safety Armand Perry may have accurately conveyed the state of the visitor’s locker room at Husky Stadium following a 44-18 loss to No. 6 Washington Saturday night.

Pass defense metrics, injury reports, the Pac-12 standings and the downward trend of the ASU football program over the last six weeks would suggest that it is not the case, at least in terms of the product on the field.

The body language of Perry, redshirt sophomore quarterback Manny Wilkins and head coach Todd Graham was a portrait of weariness, long faces resigned to the outcome that was made all the more certain based on a host of contributing factors.

No college football expert would have sincerely expected the results of ASU’s penultimate regular season game to have been any more favorable for the Sun Devils (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12) than the way things actually shook out – and yet, there’s an undertone of desperation in each of ASU’s five consecutive losses.

From the outset, the Huskies (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12) demonstrated the statistical significance of having the nation’s best turnover margin – even though sophomore quarterback Jake Browning’s two interceptions made the margin for Saturday’s contest a wash, ASU allowed Washington to score 10 points off of its giveaways.

Not only did the Sun Devils fail to get on the board after sophomore cornerback Kareem Orr’s interception on the second Washington drive of the night, but a 59-yard pick six from junior linebacker Koron Crump was negated by a block in the back at the three-yard line on junior cornerback Maurice Chandler, who was picked on all night by Browning and Husky junior wide receiver Dante Pettis.

Yeah, I thought that was huge because we take the lead right there,” Graham said. “It’s tough… I don’t think we had any points out of that, I think we threw an interception. So that was a very, very costly penalty.”

In an attempt to capture the spirit of the ever-tortured ASU fans, especially those who have been clinging to the fringes with suggestions of radical shake-ups and personnel moves, it’s important to consider that while many of those complaints are made impulsively and without much merit. There’s one notable thing that fuels such protests: the ever-present caveats that tend to accompany defeat.

“I think for the most part we did good, we stayed sound vertically,” Perry said. “We gave up like an 80-yard screen pass on a walk-off post, but I mean other than that I think the defense collectively, we did a good job, but you know, we came up short.”

It’s easy to imagine why this answer may agitate the most ardent Sun Devil supporters, when taken at face value.

And it also may cause those who will consider asking if things can get any worse to stop doing so. Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Jalen Bates (helped off the field in pregame) redshirt senior tight end Kody Kohl, redshirt junior linebacker Marcus Ball were all inactives, in addition to redshirt senior left guard Stephon McCray and redshirt freshman defensive lineman George Lea.

“Honestly, I’m just proud of the way this team fought,” Wilkins said. “I think we did a lot of good things late, and obviously we didn’t put points on the board early in the game. The defense played a hell of a game.”

Searching for silver linings amidst a darkened sky, long after the sunlight that shone through the cloudscape along Union Bay had faded away, Wilkins heaped praise on one of the game’s unlikeliest stars.



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