Saturday in Tempe, junior quarterback, Steven Threet and his team were unable to prevail over the Oregon Ducks. Threet threw for 387-yards but after four interceptions and three fumbles, the Sun Devil offense made it nearly impossible for to come back and win that contest.
"I thought we did a lot of good things, aside from the seven turnovers,” Threet commented. “Any time you turn it over that many times it is hard to win a football game, especially against a team like Oregon. With almost 600 yards of offense there are also some positive things. We have to learn from the mistakes and get ready to prepare for the next game."
Having suffered a heartbreaking 20-19 loss to no.11 Wisconsin the week before, the Sun Devils were even more motivated to prove their ability against one of the nation’s top teams. Despite their sense of urgency to win, the matchup against the Ducks was equally disheartening as the Sun Devils ultimately beat themselves.
"It definitely ruined Saturday,” Threet admitted. “But you come in Sunday, you watch the film and you’ve got to learn from it. There are lessons to be learned and you have to get ready to wake up early Monday morning to come in and start working and getting ready for the next game. You can't let it effect preparation for the next game."
The Sun Devils watched two big wins slip through their hands in the past few weeks. With a team that doesn’t believe in moral victories, the fact that they come close to beating top teams isn’t enough. Offensively, the Sun Devils struggle to execute when necessary but when the mistakes get corrected, the maroon and gold will likely begin walking away with wins.
“Its frustrating to play Wisconsin and Oregon, two very good teams, and be that close,” Threet said. “Play well offensively but not play well in the red zone and not get points when we should. But at the same time it’s exiting because we are very close. When we correct these mistakes, we can be there.
“We get the mistakes corrected and we have a chance to be a very good team offensively and obviously our defense and special teams have been doing a great job for us.”
Threet and the Sun Devil offense missed several opportunities to score when they neared the end zone, letting the much-needed win slip away but one way or another, the Sun Devils need to put points when driving deep in an opponent’s territory.
"Field goals are okay in the red-zone,” Threet admitted. “We have to get points when we are down there, especially in the fourth quarter. The turnovers down there just have to be corrected.”
The young Sun Devil squad, with only one starting senior on each side of the ball has come a long way since fall camp, but still struggles to finish with a win. When the maroon and gold offense executes effectively, they prevail, but the key is executing for the entire 60-minute matchup.
“I think it comes down to making the plays when they present themselves,” Threet said of his teams struggle to win. “We had opportunities, the defense got us the ball a couple of times in the fourth quarter and we have to capitalize on the opportunities.
"I think we are a very talented offense, we have a lot of skill players. The offensive line is doing a good job, but we have to bring it all together and execute consistently and I think we will be able to do that and we will do that."
Several times throughout Saturday’s contest, Threet and his unit attempted to execute the lateral pass with little success. The first attempt resulted in a fumble, recovered by the Ducks and returned for a touchdown and overall that lack of success running that play adversely affected other plays ASU was trying to run.
"That is a huge part of our offense and it’s a big part of our run game,” Threet stated concerning the lateral pass. “It helps us get the numbers we want in the box, to be able to run the ball. It’s something we have to make work and we’ll continue to work on that and continue to get better.
“We have to be efficient with it. You have to get good passes to the receivers and catch it and get up field quick.”
Next up for the Sun Devils are the Oregon State Beavers. The maroon and gold will travel to Corvallis for Saturday’s Pac-10 matchup. Equipped with brothers, James and Jacquizz Rogers, the Beavers will present a stiff challenge on both sides of the ball.
"They are very sound, I think that’s the first thing you pick up,” Threet commented on Oregon State’s defense. “They have some great players. They play hard and are very physical. They are going to get after us. With a good week of preparation we can be ready to go on Saturday."
True freshman, Deantre Lewis has made his way to the top of the running back depth since fall camp. Lewis is averaging nearly 10 yards a carry though four games and has scored two touchdowns in just four games, including one against the Ducks.
"He did a good job in camp,” Threet said of his teammate. “He came in fresh off of camp and really learned the system well and he is a good playmaker. If you get the ball in his hands he can do a lot of damage in space. The type of offense we run is very conducive to that type of player."
The wide receivers group has taken a lot of flack in years past but the 2010 unit has the depth and speed to compete with top defenses. The depth provides the Sun Devils will the opportunities to create a plethora of combinations to disrupt their opponent’s defense.
“We have a lot of playmakers at receiver,” Threet said. “Like Mike (Willie) and Gerell (Robinson). There are certain packages and they are on the same side together and that’s tough for a defense to defend. Any time we can present the defense with a lot of different formations and personnel packages, it makes it even harder. Those guys do a good job when they’re in there of making the defense work.”
Early in the second quarter, Threet was under pressured by the Ducks defense but scrambled to find Willie in the end zone and completed the 10-yard touchdown pass.
“He was kind of hanging out back there,” Threet said. “He was open earlier. The linebacker was kind of chasing me and I pump faked because I almost threw it to the under route and then the linebacker kind of looked away because he thought I threw it. So I had a little extra time and got the ball into the air to Mike.”
Threet connected with wide receiver, Kerry Taylor near the end of the half for a 28-yard touchdown, allowing the Sun Devils to increase their lead. After an interception by corner, Omar Bolden, the Sun Devils took over in the red zone. With Taylor under relatively tight coverage, Threet was able to find space to make the throw.
"We tried to make a big play after the turnover,” Threet said. “Omar did a good job of reading the quarterback and getting an interception so we had great field position. Coach called the play and Kerry ran a great route. He put himself past the first defender far enough but outside the safety to create a window where I could fit it in."
Although he took his fair share of hits against the Ducks, the 6-5, 240 pound quarterback continued take on the Oregon defense scrambling ten times on Saturday night.
"I was just trying to get a couple extra yards,” the quarterback commented. “It's close to the sidelines so I wasn't taking head on hits which is I always try to stay away from, just give them a little shoulder and get to the sidelines."
The maroon and gold will not return to their home field until their October 30th matchup against Washington State. In the meantime, the Sun Devils will have to prevail on the road against their next three Pac-10 opponents.
"It's strange but it will be a test for us,” Threet admitted. “We're excited about the opportunity because we have three good opponents. We are really focused on Oregon State and the challenge they present."