Graham faults coaches for No. 16 ASU's loss
SAN DIEGO (AP)
Arizona State coach Todd Graham was emphatic - he and his assistants didn't do their jobs leading up to the Holiday Bowl.
''I apologized to our players. We didn't have them prepared to play, but don't take anything away from Texas Tech,'' Graham said after the No. 16 Sun Devils lost 37-23 to the Red Raiders on Monday night.
Freshman quarterback Davis Webb threw for 403 yards and tied the Holiday Bowl record with four touchdown passes as Texas Tech snapped a five-game losing streak.
Webb tied the mark set by BYU's Jim McMahon in 1980 and matched by Kansas State's Brian Kavanagh in 1995 and Texas' Major Applewhite in 2001.
The Red Raiders (8-5) won for the first time since beating West Virginia on Oct. 19. Arizona State (10-4) lost its second straight.
The Sun Devils, coming off a 38-14 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game, were held 18 points below their average. They dropped to 0-4 in the Holiday Bowl dating to 1985.
''I thought we played poorly in the last two games,'' Graham said. ''You know what? It's not the players' fault. That's why they hire coaches, to get your guys ready to play. We didn't get our guys ready to play and on the other hand, the other team did. One of the things I believe in is great sportsmanship, and you get your tail whipped, you congratulate the other team, the other coach.
''It was the best bowl experience that I've ever had up until today, and one of the worst ones I had today.''
Arizona State's players took the blame, too.
''You can say what you want about the coaching, but we're the ones on the field playing,'' safety Alden Darby said. ''We're the ones making the plays.''
After losing their final five games by an average of 20.6 points, the Red Raiders scored on four of their first five drives to take a 27-6 lead 5 minutes into the second quarter.
Texas Tech All-America tight end Jace Amaro had eight catches for 112 yards. He set the FBS single-season record for yards receiving by a tight end with 1,352.
While Texas Tech was finding the end zone early on, Arizona State had to settle for field goals of 44 and 31 yards by Zane Gonzalez.
The Sun Devils got their first touchdown when D.J. Foster scored on a 20-yard run with 7:52 left in the second quarter to close to 27-13. ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly scored on a 44-yard run early in the third, but Reginald Davis returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to extend the Red Raiders' lead to 34-20.
Kelly gained 135 yards on 25 carries but threw for only 125 yards, going 16 of 29. He was sacked three times. Foster gained 132 yards on 20 carries.
Arizona State's Richard Smith couldn't hold onto a 50-yard pass from Kelly as he tripped and tumbled into the end zone with 9:50 left and the Sun Devils trailing by 14.
''That's hard for our seniors, to end on two losses, but we had a great energy the week of practice, preparation, I think, and guys were ready for this game,'' Kelly said. ''We just didn't execute. Texas Tech did a great job of preparing.''