ASU dominates in rout of 20th-ranked Washington

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State’s run defense was supposed to be weak, unable to stop much of anyone, much less the nation’s leading rusher.

The Sun Devils took it as a challenge and, boy, were they up to it.

Clogging lanes and jumping into the

backfield on seemingly every play, ASU swarmed Washington’s

Bishop Sankey while dominating both sides of the ball in a 53-24 victory

over the 20th-ranked Huskies on Saturday afternoon.

“We were flying around,” ASU

defensive end Gannon Conway said. “We had a good night, did what we were

coached to do.”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The big knock on ASU’s defense

under coach Todd Graham was that it couldn’t stop the run. The Sun

Devils had trouble with it for most of the 2012 season and had similar

issues in losses this season to power-running programs Stanford and

Notre Dame.

Facing Sankey was supposed to be their

most daunting task yet. The junior came in leading the nation at nearly

150 yards per game and appears to be well on his way to shattering

nearly all of Washington’s single-season rushing records.

The Sun Devils (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) flipped

the tables on Sankey with a dominating defensive performance, holding

him to 22 yards on 13 carries.

And they didn’t stop with him.

ASU held Washington to

minus-5 yards on 25 carries — matching the second-fewest ASU has

allowed since 1996 — and limited the nation’s eighth-best offense to

212 total yards.

The Sun Devils also knocked around

Huskies quarterback Keith Price all game and finished with seven sacks

against a team that had allowed 12 in its first six games combined.

“That was embarrassing,” Washington

coach Steve Sarkisian said after the Huskies’ eighth straight loss to

ASU. “We weren’t good enough; we weren’t well enough coached;

we didn’t perform well enough; and we weren’t physical enough, nearly

physical enough, against a good football team.”

ASU’s offense was just as overwhelming.

The Huskies (4-3, 1-3) were worried

about Taylor Kelly’s legs as much as his arm and ASU’s

quarterback still hurt them with both. He threw for 268 yards and two

touchdowns and ran for 84 yards and two more scores.

Marion Grice did what he does best,

scoring three touchdowns — that’s 18 already this season — while

running for 161 yards on 22 carries. The nation’s leading scorer had two

touchdown runs in the fourth quarter and had a spectacular TD catch

that triggered ASU’s 26-point second quarter.

Zane Gonzalez kicked four field goals,

extending his streak to 11 straight, and ASU racked up 585

yards while scoring its most points ever against the Huskies.

“Man, what an impressive performance;

it might be the most impressive performance that we’ve had as a team

since I’ve been here,” Graham said. “We’ve got a heck of a football team

and I love watching them. Man, it’s exciting to watch.”

Not for the Huskies.

They appeared to be in good shape at

the start, moving 60 yards in 11 plays for a 1-yard touchdown run by

Sankey on its opening possession.

It was almost all ASU after that.

After settling for Gonzalez’s first

field goal in the first quarter, Grice opened the second with a

highlight-reel touchdown, pulling down a one-handed, 15-yard pass while

falling along the sideline. Gonzalez followed with two more field goals,

Kelly scored on a 1-yard dive and the Sun Devils put together a

quick-hitting drive in the final minute of the first half, capped by a

14-yard touchdown pass to Chris Coyle that put them up 29-7.

Good as ASU’s offense was, its D was even better.

The Sun Devils clogged up all running

lanes against Sankey, meeting him with multiple tacklers often before he

even reached the line of scrimmage. He had 11 yards on nine carries at


Price didn’t do much to offset the

Huskies’ ground struggles, getting several passes swatted down early and

repeatedly overthrowing receivers while facing constant pressure.

Washington had 74 total yards on 36

plays and went three-and-out six times in the first half after doing it

nine times in the first six games combined.

“We obviously had a great first

drive,'” Sarkisian said. “I felt we could’ve moved the ball better than

we did today, that’s for sure.”

The Huskies finally showed some life to

start the second half with Kevin Smith catching a pass from Price over

the middle and turning it into a 70-yard touchdown.

Turned out to be just a blip in the Sun Devils’ runaway.

ASU answered with an 11-play,

77-yard scoring drive, capped by a spinning 1-yard touchdown run by

Kelly. Grice followed with a 1-yard scoring run and another from 14

yards out to give ASU a 53-24 lead.

“We beat a really good football team,” Graham said. “We dominated a really good football team tonight.”

They sure did, on both sides of the ball.