From Pullman -- It wasn't a happy Halloween for the Cougars, who bring home a report card that would've gotten me grounded for a fortnight. By the time the first half mercifully ended there were scarcely 10,000 fans still in the stadium, and more snuck out during the break. The game was out of hand just minutes into the first quarter and no position group distinguished itself from the abominable performance.
It should be noted that the Sun Devils have been playing great of late, and most impartial analysts assumed that ASU would walk away with a double-digit win. But the Cougars weren't playing 'Bama on Thursday night and should've been able to make the game competitive for a few drives, at least, in the schools' first home game televised on ESPN since 1990.
Unit Grades are after the jump.
Quarterback, C: I confess to finding it a tad surprising that the "play the backup" crowd is using this particular game as evidence for their case. While Connor Halliday didn't light the world on fire against the Sun Devils, he certainly wasn't the cause of the Cougars' troubles. A few early drops of well-placed passes stalled the WSU offense early and seemed to take Halliday out of his rhythm. While Halliday's yards-per-attempt numbers weren't very good (5.6), he threw just one interception in 54 passes and tossed a pair of touchdowns.
Running Back, F: Seven attempts, 27 yards. Three receptions, 19 yards.
Wide Receiver, D+: The receivers racked up some yards, as they should when the quarterback throws the ball 50-plus times. However there were some drive-killing drops early on that took away any chance the Cougars had of hanging around while the Sun Devils racked up their first-quarter points. Freshman River Cracraft had another good day and Gabe Marks is a stud. Rickey Galvin had a nice touchdown catch. But in the pass-happy Air Raid offense the receivers are going to have to play much better for WSU to compete.
Offensive Line, C: John Fullington got four receiving yards and that was kind of neat. The Sun Devils have one of the conference's oldest, best front sevens and they're very good at getting after the quarterback. Still, three sacks for 30 yards is nothing to brag about, and Halliday rarely had much time to throw.
Defensive Line, B-: Xavier Cooper had a great game, finishing second on the team with seven tackles, including two for a loss and a sack. Kalafitoni Pole added six more with two tackles for loss of his own. While the Sun Devils had nearly 300 yards on the ground, they only averaged 4.9 yards per carry and that includes a pair of special teams plays that went for big yardage. If there was a bright spot against ASU for the Cougars it was the defensive line.
Linebackers, D+: The linebackers never did figure out quarterback Taylor Kelly's fakes, and at times appeared to struggle more against ASU's misdirection than Oregon's.
Secondary, C-: ASU had five passing touchdowns, including one where cornerback Damante Horton popped the ball up into the air for the receiver to snag in the end zone. This unit would really be struggling without Deone Bucannon, who made 12 tackles and returned an intercepted pass 32 yards.
Special Teams, F: WSU's special teams gave up 20 yards on a fake punt to a linebacker. It was so easy that the punter later called his own number for 19 more.