Morgan: Devils’ crash is depressing - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Morgan: Devils’ crash is depressing

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Posted: Saturday, October 25, 2008 11:30 pm | Updated: 9:49 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The initial crash of the stock market that led to the Great Depression occurred between Oct. 24-29, 1929.

The Arizona State football team suffered the longest losing streak in its history (six) that same year.

Yeah. The parallels to this year are spooky, aren’t they?

And we won’t even bother with the cliched Halloween reference.

Oops.

Oregon routs Arizona State, 54 - 20

SLIDESHOW: ASU vs. Oregon football

ASU notebook: Smith returns from shoulder stinger

How did this season get so downright, well, depressing?

Everyone knew that the Devils would be facing a scheduling gauntlet this time of year with Georgia, USC, California, Oregon and Oregon State in succession, but you at least expected the Devils to compete, didn’t you?

In three of its last four games — and arguably all four — ASU hasn’t even achieved that simple badge of honor.

Saturday’s 54-20 loss to Oregon was just the latest in this local dance of the dead.

As a result, the season has taken a downturn of historic proportions.

If the Devils lose next week at Oregon State — anybody want to bet against it? — they will have matched that forgettable 1929 crash with six straight defeats.

And you thought your 401K was underperforming?

“I’m embarrassed for our team, embarrassed for our fans and embarrassed for our students,” coach Dennis Erickson said. “To come home and play like that is inexcusable and I didn’t see it coming.”

It is hard to believe the Devils had two weeks to prepare for the Ducks.

Oregon’s offense sliced through the ASU defense like a hot scooper through pralines and cream.

And the ASU offense — or half-offense, since we all know the state of the run game — was as pathetic as it has been all year.

The numbers on Rudy Carpenter’s first two drives: 1-of-5 passing for minus-5 yards and two interceptions.

The lack of a run game and receiver drops aren’t helping, but Carpenter was awful Saturday when the game was in reach, no matter how you dissect it.

With the Devils trailing 14-0 early in the second quarter, Erickson elected to go for it on a fourth-and-1 at his own 48. Carpenter faked a handoff, started to roll out of the pocket, tripped and fell.

Oregon took over and put the game away four plays later.

“We just didn’t make plays,” Erickson said.

Remember all those warm feelings flowing from last season’s improbable 10-3 run?

They’re gone. So is any cache that ASU had built off that success.

It was a one-year wonder built on the shoulders of a strong senior class. And now the Devils are starting over.

Does this sound familiar?

When the Sun Devils came within a David Boston catch of winning the national championship in 1997, then-coach Bruce Snyder was criticized for not capitalizing on that obvious recruiting tool to push ASU among the nation’s top-tier programs.

Erickson just had a terrific recruiting year, if you believe what the analysts say, and we may yet see the fruits of his labor down the road.

But nobody, least of all the coach, can be absolved of guilt for the backward steps taken by this year’s team.

“I don’t know if it’s regressing because it hasn’t been very good all along,” Erickson said.

It also doesn’t help the recruiting sales pitches when Arizona is playing toe-to-toe with USC.

Why wouldn’t a top recruit want to come to Tempe, you ask?

Watching this year’s team, why would he?

There is no apparent leadership.

There is no apparent fire.

There is no apparent talent.

So there is no apparent reason for fans to turn out at Sun Devil Stadium.

Why bother when the local team isn’t?

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