Buffs Hold Off Devils: Five Things We Learned

Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards, center, confers with head linesman Bob Day, left, and referee Javarro Edwards in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Colorado Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018, in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Arizona State football was back on the road Saturday and fell to Pac-12 South-leading Colorado 28-21 in Boulder. With the loss, the Sun Devils slipped to 3-3, 1-2 in Pac-12 play. The Buffs improve to 5-0, 2-0.

Here are five things we learned.

None for the Road…Three road games for ASU this year, three losses. Herm Edwards has been stressing the importance of becoming a more complete team means winning away from Tempe. Sure, the Devils have been competitive against San Diego State, Washington and Colorado but the end result won’t get you any closer to a Pac-12 South Championship.

Promise Keeper…Say what you want about Edwards but he’s certainly honest in his approach to ASU’s offense. Earlier in the week he essentially laid out the blueprint and Saturday it played out as so, at least in the first half. Eno Benjamin, coming off a record-breaking game against Oregon State, had 20 carries for nearly 100 yards and the early game script played right into Edwards’ style: control the ball and run the clock. ASU converted 83 percent of their first half third-down conversions and tallied 118 rushing yards by intermission. The running set up play-action which included a 40-yard dime from Manny Wilkins to Frank Darby early in the third quarter to give the Devils the lead at the time. 

Beat At Their Own Game…Colorado proved they can play keep away, we well. The Buffs ran 69 offensive plays Saturday (ASU 58) and won the time-of-possession battle 33:37-26:33. Savvy junior quarterback Steven Montez was brilliant completing 24 of 33 for 328 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over and frequently made his biggest plays at the most crucial times. 

Mirror Images…People here in the Valley are well aware of N’Keal Harry’s NFL-type body and game but CU has their own version in Laviska Shenault, Jr. who balled out for the Buffs in Boulder. The Texas native caught a touchdown and rushed for another in the first half against an ASU defense zoned in on limiting his production. Shenault has burst onto the scene as a sophomore after catching just seven passes all last season. He finished with 13 receptions for 127 yards and four total touchdowns.

Bye-ing Time…Although no team wants to enter the bye week with a loss, it comes at a good time on the calendar for ASU. Harry missed key offensive plays in the second half after suffering a leg injury on a hit during a third-quarter punt return. Then Wilkins limped off the field in the fourth quarter after a high-low sandwich hit, injuring his right leg. He was shown in considerable pain on the sideline. ASU never got the ball back as CU iced the game on the next possession, moving the ball and milking the clock before going into victory formation and celebrating the hard-earned victory. The road gets no easier when the Devils return to action hosting Stanford Thursday, October 18th.