There are so many ways to describe Arizona State’s 34-21 football loss to Washington State on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium that it’s hard to choose one: embarrassing? Devastating? Frustrating? Exasperating? Exasperating? Pathetic? Ugly? Not inspired? Inexcusable? Just bad?
How about non-competitive?
“We have a lot of repairs to do,” coach Herm Edwards said.
ASU has made so many mistakes that there is no point in looking for something good to take away from the game.
The Sun Devils lost a fumble in the second game of the game. They lost another fumble on the first play of their next possession. Then they threw an interception. They were down 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. A drive that began inside WSU 20 ended in a missed field goal (which was preceded by a field goal that was wiped out by a false start.) A 55-yard touchdown by Jayden Daniels has was nullified by a maintenance penalty.
It could continue.
After:Arizona State Football Gives Fans A Few Reasons To Stay At Game Against Washington State
The Sun Devils have lost five turnovers. They gave up six passes for 15 yards or more, including a 45-yard touchdown in the second quarter. They gave up six rushing plays of 10 or more yards. Trailing 28-7 to start the second half, ASU had two punts and one interception on three drives in the third quarter. And at the start of the fourth quarter, the only fans paying attention to the game were wearing red and white. (Except for the guys in the 300 section who were locked up enough to boo.)
“That game was similar to Utah’s game in the second half,” Edwards said. “We didn’t play either side of football very well… we fell behind early and had to play catch-up football. It’s always hard to do.
ASU was outscored 28-0 in the second half against Utah.
The Sun Devils led 28-0 before their first score late in the first half against Washington State.
It was 56-0 over nearly four quarters of football.
After:Future of ASU football coach Herm Edwards in question after loss to Washington State
It was so bad that it made observers wonder if the players gave up on the pitch.
“I thought we played hard,” Edwards said. “Sometimes when you’re going down like this, you don’t see any energy…when you’re down, you’re a little dazed.”
Hopes of going to the Rose Bowl have faded. It’s hard to imagine Utah and UCLA losing enough games to give ASU a shot at the Pac-12 South title.
Those goals were still in play before this lopsided defeat in a top game. (It aired on FS1.)
Now is the time to check the guts for ASU football.
There are four games left in the season, including USC and the Territorial Cup game against a shaken Arizona program.
The Sun Devils need to find ways to stay motivated and show their pride. Their legacies are at stake, coaches and players.
One more win, and ASU can play in a bowl game.
“There’s a lot to play for…we can’t lose sight of that,” Edwards said. “We win enough and those bowl games become more important.”
And besides, just because something is unlikely (like winning the Pac-12 and going to the Rose Bowl) doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” Edwards said.
He acknowledged that the Sun Devils “do not control our destiny by any stretch of the imagination”.
But it is not finished.
His coaches must know that. His players must believe in it. It’s the only way for them to salvage something positive from the season.
“They were in a lot of pain in the locker room… that should hurt. It’s not fun when you lose,” Edwards said.
This loss was many things.
Embarrassing. Devastating. Frustrating. Exasperating. Exasperating. Pathetic. Ugly. Uninspired. Inexcusable. Simply bad. And, yes, non-competitive.
But anyone who gets up to play another day has a chance to make tomorrow better than yesterday.
That’s ASU’s challenge now.
Edwards believes in his players.
“They’re a resilient bunch of guys,” he said.
The question now is how much do they believe in themselves?
There’s a lot of Moore where that came from. Subscribe to receive videos, columns, opinions and analysis from the Arizona Republic’s award-winning sports team.