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October 18, 2009

Sullivan delivers improved performance

Last time Danny Sullivan played at Sun Devil Stadium, thoughts of replacing him as ASU's starting quarterback no doubt ran through the minds of many Sun Devil faithful.

After Saturday night's game against the University of Washington those thoughts are seemingly all but history.

The transformation of fan response from two weeks ago against Oregon State -- when Sullivan was booed throughout the game -- to Saturday's victory over the Huskies says it all.

While jogging into the locker room after throwing the game winning 50 yard touchdown pass the Sun Devil fans were heard chanting "Danny, Danny."

From the very beginning of the game Sullivan looked more confident in his throws, pocket presence and overall ability to manage the game. Sullivan was more accurate with his passes, with a 60 percent completion ratio, more efficient on third down conversions (5-12), and put up more points (24) then the last time he took the field at home.

The offense seemed to be in a groove throughout the game. In fact the Sun Devils' first three-and-out came at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

"I have had to deal this year with people saying I can't make big plays," Sullivan said. "[Tonight] was a complete 180 (degree turnaround) that's for sure. [The chants] were awesome and I hope it happens again in two weeks (against Cal)."

Sullivan completed passes to seven different Sun Devil receivers and finished the game going 21-of-35 for 263 yards and two total touchdowns.

Ready when it counts

Wide receiver Chris McGaha had only one catch Saturday against Washington but still made his presence felt in the biggest way possible.

McGaha came down with a 50-yard touchdown catch with five seconds left in the ball game to give ASU a 24-17 win. Battling the flu all week, McGaha didn't practice at all, and saw limited action in the game. Afterwards he even admitted that he was still feeling under the weather.

Sick or healthy, McGaha is responsible for the biggest play of the Sun Devils' season thus far.

"The ball seemed like it was in the air for awhile," McGaha said. "I definitely capitalized on my opportunities."

Reading the defense to perfection, quarterback Danny Sullivan saw the blown coverage from the safety and delivered the ball perfectly to a wide open McGaha. Sullivan admitted after the game that when he saw McGaha he told himself one thing and that was to make sure the pass wasn't overthrown.

Along with Sullivan, ASU coach Dennis Erickson was just hoping to get into field goal range for kicker Thomas Weber, who made his first appearance after injuring himself before ASU's game against Georgia. Weber finished the night 1-of-3 on field goals.

"For all the years I have been coaching I don't remember winning a game on the last play of the game like that," Erickson said. "The ball seemed to be in the air for three days and to win a game like that for our program is huge."

Williams airs it out

Sullivan wasn't the only Sun Devil to throw a touchdown in Saturday's game against the Huskies. Wide receiver Kyle Williams took a reverse handoff from running back Dimitri Nance early in the second quarter and proceeded to look downfield to throw the ball. Covered in the end zone was receiver T.J. Simpson, but Williams elected to throw it anyway. Simpson adjusted to the ball and caught it, resulting in a 32 yard touchdown and Williams' first career touchdown pass.

"I probably shouldn't have thrown it because T.J. was covered but he just made a great play and I give all the credit to him," Williams said. "I kind of just put it up there and it was a terrible throw but we have been practicing that for like two years and oddly enough we finally ran it."

Midway through Williams' explaination of the touchdown pass coach, Erickson, hidden in the corner of the press room, interrupted, saying with a sarcastic tone that the throw and Williams' decision were great.

The last time a position other than quarterback threw a touchdown for ASU was November 5th, 2005, when wide receiver Rudy Burgess connected with Derek Hagan for a 43 yard touchdown against Washington State.

Nation-best streak

After the University of Florida Gators failed to intercept a pass Saturday against Arkansas, the Sun Devils currently sit No.1 in the nation for most consecutive games with an interception.

Before Saturday the Gators went 17 straight games. After Ryan McFoy's second quarter interception the Sun Devils current streak sits at 14 games.

In addition to forcing two turnovers through the air, the ASU defense was also able to limit Washington quarterback Jake Locker's duel-threat potential. Coming off a 92 yard rushing performance against the University of Arizona, which included a 56 yard touchdown run, Locker was unable to get things going with his legs Saturday against the Sun Devils.

Known as one of the nation's top duel-threat quarterbacks, Locker rushed eight times for just 24 yards against ASU.

Penalty woes continue

ASU continues its trend of giving away yards to its opponent. Saturday against the Huskies the Sun Devils were responsible for nine penalties awarding Washington 99 yards, including a handful of personal fouls.

With some of those calls questionable, Erickson made it a point to let the referees know his thoughts about the calls.

Erickson was seen face to face with an official, screaming, jumping up and down and throwing his arms up in a wild manner after Pierre Singfield was called for pass interference. Later he admitted that he hadn't been that upset in a long time.

"I don't know the calls but they all seemed to be against us," Erickson said.

This season the Sun Devils average nearly nine penalties a game totaling 83.5 yards.

Marshall breaks it open

Freshman running back Cameron Marshall was in charge of the longest run from scrimmage this season. Marshall broke a 75-yard run in the middle of the third quarter setting up a Thomas Weber 24-yard field goal. His run was the longest since 2007, when Keegan Herring ran for 76 yards against the Huskies as well.


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