|No. 9 Sun Devils look to bounce back after first defeat|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 05 November 2007 13:16|
The ninth-ranked Sun Devils (8-1, 5-1 Pac-10) lost their showdown at Oregon on Saturday. But coach Dennis Erickson believes his players will bounce back and be ready to play at UCLA next Saturday.
``We're upbeat,'' Erickson said Monday at his weekly campus news conference. ``It's not like when we went in there and got beat up. That wasn't the case. We had our chances against a good football team and didn't win it; so now all of our attention is on trying to go down to the Rose Bowl and beat UCLA.''
The 35-23 loss to the Ducks dropped ASU to ninth in the Bowl Championship Series, probably eliminating them from a shot at the national title game. The Sun Devils still can put themselves in position for a BCS berth if they sweep their final three games against UCLA, No. 12 Southern California and Arizona.
Their fate could depend on what happens to Oregon.
If Oregon, ranked third in the BCS, wins its final three games and earns a berth in the national title game, Arizona State could draw an invitation from the Rose Bowl, which would likely try to replace the Ducks with another Pac-10 school.
If Oregon doesn't qualify for the title game, the 11-1 Ducks would go to the Rose Bowl. The Sun Devils might then be selected by their hometown Fiesta Bowl.
It's all speculation, and it won't matter unless the Sun Devils can rebound and beat the Bruins. UCLA (5-4, 4-2) has been riddled by injuries and is coming off back-to-back losses to weaklings Washington State and Arizona.
``We've still got a lot to play for,'' quarterback Rudy Carpenter said. ``I think everybody on our team realizes that we can still accomplish the goals that we had set at the beginning of the season. I think we'll be fine.''
In the loss to the Ducks, two problems that had occurred throughout the season cropped up. They hadn't cost the Sun Devils against a relatively weak schedule, but they did on Saturday.
The first was a slow start. ASU overcame double-digit first quarter deficits against Colorado (14-0), Oregon State (19-0) and California (13-0).
They trailed Oregon 14-3 after one quarter and 21-3 early in the second quarter. The lead proved to be too much to overcome, even when the Ducks lost star quarterback Dennis Dixon to a leg injury early in the fourth quarter.
The second problem was sacks. ASU allowed nine, giving it 37 for the season. Only two teams - Stanford and Notre Dame - have given up more.
The offensive line, expected to be a strength, has taken plenty of criticism for the sack total. But Erickson said it wasn't all the line's fault. In some cases, he said, Carpenter could have thrown the ball away.
``There were three or four that were 'cover' sacks where we couldn't get rid of the football and then we fumbled a snap,'' Erickson said. ``Everybody says you had nine sacks, the offensive line played awful, that's not the case. Yes, we missed some up front, but anytime you have sacks, it's a combination of things.''
Carpenter accepted some of the blame for the sacks.
``It's been an assortment of things,'' he said. ``I think there's a couple of times where I maybe could have ran or threw the ball away.''
Carpenter, who showed no effects of a sprained thumb on this throwing hand, completed his first seven passes and looked as if he might pick Oregon apart. At halftime, the Ducks decided to blitz more often, and he rarely seemed comfortable in the pocket the rest of the way.
Erickson said he expects UCLA to use the same strategy on Saturday.
``UCLA is awfully good up front and they bring it pretty good, so we're going to have to make sure we shore it up,'' Erickson said. ``We're going to see (blitzes) all the time. That's just how it is, so we just have to adjust.''