When arriving to Sun Devil Stadium on Friday evening it seemed as if all the air was sucked out of the place before the game even started.
This could have been because two-thirds of the stadium was empty. Or because earlier day, Utah dropped their regular season finale to Colorado. The Sun Devils needed to win and needed Utah to win in order to represent the South Division for the Pac 12 Championship game.
When asked if the result of the Utah game played a factor in the Sun Devil’s mentality on the night, ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson responded, “I don’t know if it did or not. It is hard in that situation when you are forced to sit and wait for someone to do the job you should have done weeks ago.”
One of the biggest issues during the recent slide by ASU has been the extremely poor play by their defense. And the defense again was a major issue all night as ridiculous penalties and big plays led them to their fourth straight loss, 47-38 to California.
“It is really hard. In all of the years I have been in this business I don’t think I have ever been on a slide like this. Especially on defense.” Erickson said after the game.
The burning question has been why? What is the reason behind this four game skid? Why is the reason behind the complete 180 degree turn the team has taken?
“It seems every week it is something different,” said ASU Senior Linebacker Colin Parker, who played has last game in Sun Devil Stadium Friday night. “For some reason or another, it just didn’t work out.”
“I said it last week and some didn’t agree, but we thought we had arrived. It is a hunger factor,” said ASU Senior Defensive Tackle Bo Moos who played his last game in Sun Devil Stadium as well.
Dennis Erickson’s future as ASU’s Head Coach continues to get more grim by the day. Erickson maintained Friday night after the game that he will meet with Athletic Director Lisa Love after the season to evaluate where the program is and what is best moving forward.
If it was up to the players, “Coach E” wouldn’t be going anywhere.
“We will fight to the end for that guy because he would do the same for us,” said ASU Junior Quarterback Brock Osweiler.
The straight shooting Bo Moos added, “Ultimately, the blame will be on Coach E, but we (the players) don’t think it should be. If something does happen I’m just glad I wont be back.”
We will see what happens in the days to come but for now, Dennis Erickson remains the Sun Devils Head Coach heading into the first bowl game ASU has appeared in since 2007.
Leave it to Osweiler to acknowledge that positive Friday Night. “We still have a lot to be happy about. We are still going to a bowl game. Shoot, I haven’t done that since I’ve been here.”
One other positive from the night, ASU Junior Runningback Cameron Marshall ran for his 17th and 18th rushing touchdowns of the season. The 18th set the single-season rushing touchdown record in ASU history. Marshall said setting the record was “bittersweet” after the Sun Devil’s fourth straight loss.
As the 2011 regular season reaches its end, the coming weeks will undoubtedly be interesting as the Sun Devil faithful look toward the future of their football program.