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Takeaways From Arizona State’s Hard Fought Loss to USC

There is no such thing as a moral victory, but today was as close to a moral victory as it gets as ASU lost a close game to USC by a final score of 42-28.

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In Kenny Dillingham’s playcalling debut on the season, he gave ASU their best offensive output of the season. However, if you were to ask him, he would say that he needs to be better as a play-caller on 1st and 2nd down plays.

However, based on looking back at the game, the head coach brought life to an offense that failed to score points for 6 straight quarters before tonight. They also got their first touchdown of the second half for the first time this season.

Here are some takeaways from tonight’s game vs. USC.

Cameron Skattebo For Heisman?

Skattebo literally looked like Christian McCaffery tonight as he did everything for ASU’s offense tonight. From passing to rushing, to receiving, to punting, it didn’t matter and USC couldn’t stop him as a result.

Skattebo’s stat line was 20 carries and 111 yards, 4 receptions and 79 yards, and was 2/3 throwing for 42 yards in the air. And he also punted the ball inside USC’s 20-yard line which ended up helping ASU score it’s first touchdown of the game after a fumbled snap between Caleb Williams and MarShawn Lloyd put ASU in good field position.

But none of those plays topped the epic 4th down touchdown that he had in the 4th quarter that helped keep ASU’s hopes alive tonight.

Dillingham did a great job of getting one of his best playmakers the ball tonight and as a result, it led to an all-time performance by the transfer junior from Sacramento State.

Kenny Dillingham’s Playcalling Debut:

It’s safe to say Dillingham was in his bag tonight when it came to offensive playcalling as he made a huge difference for Arizona State’s offense. The offense totaled 353 yards on offense and scored 4 touchdowns on the night to go with a two-point conversion from Skattebo.

They converted on 6 3rd downs which was 3 more than USC and they won the time of possession by 3 minutes. The two best stats of the night were ASU’s 4th down conversions (3-4) as well as ASU’s red zone conversions (4-4). And that has everything to do with Dillingham’s playcalling.

Dillingham had an awesome fake punt conversion on 4th down that resulted in points later in the drive to make it a one-score game at the half. He also had an awesome fade concept for Elijah Badger that resulted in a touchdown that was then encored by a sparky formation touchdown by Skaettebo to make a three-score game in the third quarter.

Overall it wasn’t a perfect game on offense. But it was a step in the right direction for Kenny Dillingham’s program moving forward in what he’s trying to establish.

Defense Wasn’t Perfect But Fought:

The defense went up against the number one offense in the nation in scoring today and gave up their lowest outing of the season as they only scored 42 points tonight.

Arizona State’s best defensive stat of the day was stopping USC’s offense from converting on only 3-10 plays tonight as that highlighted an ugly offensive performance for USC’s standards.

One of the blemishes from ASU’s defense unfortunately was the rush defense. Going into the game, ASU ranked 4th in the Pac-12 and 23rd in the nation in rush defense. MarShawn Lloyd gave them a night they would want to forget as he rushed for 154 yards on 14 carries which was good for 11 yards per carry on the night.

ASU’s pass defense was inconsistent which was expected going against USC’s top-ranked passing offense. Two plays the team would want to have back were USC’s two bomb touchdowns with one to Brendan Rice on 4th and 7 for 43 yards and another to Tahj Washington on a 45-yard deep ball in the 4th quarter to put the game away.

Both of those plays resulted in tough coverage breakdowns from corners Demetrius Ford and Shamari Simmons who didn’t play the ball in the air well. However, outside of those two plays, ASU’s defense as a whole played as well as anybody has against USC tonight despite Williams still throwing for over 300 yards and scoring 5 total touchdowns.

Arizona State Fights Until The End in Tough Loss to USC 42-28

Now ASU will look to get their first win since week one when they take on Cal next week for their first road game of the season.

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