Friday, Arizona State got some good news from its medical staff, a day after the Sun Devils got clocked 43-21 by Oregon in a game that wasn’t that close. Standout defensive tackle Will Sutton doesn’t have a serious knee injury as initially feared, and the Sun Devils are listing him as “week to week.” And defensive end Junior Onyeali apparently won’t be out long with a shoulder injury after he left in the first half the other night.
I’ve thought Sutton is the Pac-12 defensive player of the year to date, and his absence Thursday night had to have a devastating effect on the Sun Devils, both physically and psychologically. On the Ducks’ second offensive play of the game, he stormed into the backfield and created a fumble, leading to ASU’s early touchdown for a 7-0 lead.
I had pegged ASU to be able to hang in against the Ducks, and Sutton’s absence didn’t help. But the truth is, the Sun Devils had no answers on the other side of the ball against the underrated Oregon defense, which had five sacks and held the hosts to that single touchdown during the part of the game that mattered.
It’s that defense that may be the key, and the difference between this Oregon team and the recent others, in the Ducks’ bid to win a BCS national title.