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Takeaways From Arizona State’s 24-21 Loss to Cal

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For the second week in a row, Arizona State fought to the finish line as they lost a heartbreaking game to Cal by a final score of 24-21.

This game felt like one that Arizona State could’ve come away with and won, but so many things contributed to this three-point loss. Here are my three takeaways from Arizona State’s loss to Cal.

Missed Opportunities:

Arizona State’s offense played hard in this game but they left a lot of meat on the bone in what could’ve changed the outcome of the game numerous times to favor themselves.

At the beginning of the second half after Cal’s offense went three and out, Arizona State faced a 4th and 1 in their own territory down 10-7.

Head coach Kenny Dillingham elected to go for it instead of playing field position with the defense playing lights out. ASU turned the ball over on downs as Cameron Skattebo got stuffed at the line of scrimmage.

This resulted in a huge touchdown from Sam Jackson V to Jeremiah Hunter that gave Cal a 17-7 lead.

The next two drives after this, ASU marched the ball down the field twice inside Cal’s 10-yard line and failed to score a touchdown on both opportunities thanks to penalties on a false start and 12 men in the huddle on both drives that backed them up on 4th down situations.

These plays resulted in ASU never taking a lead in this game and being down 17-13 in the third quarter.

Dillingham after the game talked about the lack of touchdowns scored in the red zone today and what they could’ve done better as a team to prevent this.

“Yeah, couldn’t run the ball in the redzone. When you can’t run the ball in the redzone it’s going to be hard because the field shrinks and their defensive backs are good players… Credit those guys for stopping the run.”

Trenton Bourguet also talked about the lack of execution in the red zone and that is what made or brok the teams struggle in the game.

“Offensively we got to execute the game in the redzone you know field goals kind of hurt us at the end and you know you got to execute but other than that I can’t throw a costly turnover in the fourth qaurter like that. Just got to learn from our mistakes and get better.”

To go along with these missed opportunities was also the field position that was drastically different between Cal and ASU. Cal’s punter was dealing in this game as he continued to punish ASU into bad field position all game long. Coach Dillingham talked about the difference between how Cal’s punter and ASU’s punter performed today.

“Yeah, the special teams punt return trade off was pretty drastic.” Dillingham said. “I haven’t looked at the stats but I would say we lost over 50 yards minimum maybe 60 yards and when you lose 60 yards that’s at least 3 points and that’s the entire field… So we got to look at that and our punt game because right now that’s been a struggle for us.”

Rush Defense is a Concern:

For the second week in a row, Arizona State’s rush defense was a problem for an otherwise great defensive performance. Truthfully, if ASU kept the running game in check, it would’ve been a very low-scoring game for Cal today.

ASU gave up 168 yards on the ground and 165 of them came from running back Jadyn Ott who had a great game today.

Last week against USC they gave up 213 yards on the ground and MarShawn Lloyd had 154 yards on the ground. This is something Arizona State has to clean up going through the rest of the season as they have given up a combined 381 yards on the ground.

Injuries Keep Piling Up:

Unfortunately, this was the tough part of the game for Arizona State as they had a bunch of players go down to injury as well as a couple of scares with quarterback Trenton Bourguet who was down on the field after his lone interception today.

Tre Brown is a noticeable player who was injured in today’s game and he was seen on crutches to end the game. Coach Dillingham went through all the noticeable injuries after the game and it wasn’t a great thing to hear.

“Yeah obviously Jordan (Clark) was out and then Macen (Williams) went out at nickel. So we were on our third nickel and that’s a pretty important position in our defense so we had to live with the calls. When Tre goes out he’s pretty important to so all part of the challenges that we have to put together”

This doesn’t go without saying that ASU also suffered injuries to players on the offensive line yet again. Injuries have been an Achilles heal for ASU all season long and now sitting at 1-4 with competition getting tougher, it will be interesting to see what adjust coach Dillingham and the coaching staff make.

Injuries and Missed Opportunities Gives Arizona State the 24-21 Loss to Cal on the Road

Arizona State will now focus its attention on Colorado next Saturday night at home in a game where Colorado is desperately looking to win after dropping two in a row.

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