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When in Doubt, Punt? Koetter's Ploy Backfires

October 15, 2006|Chris Dufresne; Gary Klein; David Wharton | From Times Staff Reports

What was Arizona State Coach Dirk Koetter thinking?

Why did he likely punt the game back to USC in the final seconds of Saturday's 28-21 loss?

The situation:

Trailing by seven points, Arizona State faced fourth and 22 at its 23-yard line when Koetter decided to punt the ball back to USC with virtually no way of stopping the clock. Arizona State had only two timeouts left when USC took possession at its 31 with 1:19 left.

Under new rules this year, the clock starts on a change of possession after the officials mark the ball, meaning Arizona State had to use one timeout just to keep the clock from starting.

After USC ran one play, a carry by Chauncey Washington, Arizona State was forced to use its last timeout with 1:12 left.

USC then ran out the clock.

Rather than try a fourth-down pass to keep his team's chances alive, Koetter said he thought his best chance was punting.

"I felt we were better off to try and advance the ball 50 yards and try to come up with a turnover," Koetter explained. "The odds of converting on fourth and 30 are tough."

And really, Doug Flutie and Kordell Stewart, when has anyone in college ever won a game on a last-second fling?

-- Chris Dufresne

Split end Dwayne Jarrett became the Pacific 10 Conference's all-time leader in touchdown receptions when he caught a 14-yard scoring pass from John David Booty in the second quarter.

Jarrett's 33rd touchdown moved him ahead of Stanford's Ken Margerum.


It was a big night for the kids from Colton.

Freshmen Allen Bradford and Shareece Wright starred together at Colton High and both made big plays against Arizona State.

Bradford lined up at fullback for the first time and caught a 17-yard touchdown pass on the Trojans' first possession.

The next time USC got the ball, the Trojans had to punt and Wright, a cornerback, recovered a fumble by returner Terry Richardson at the 11-yard line, setting up a two-yard touchdown run by C.J. Gable for a 14-0 lead.

-- Gary Klein

USC's secondary suffered yet another critical injury Saturday night when cornerback Kevin Thomas broke his left foot during the victory over Arizona State.

Thomas will undergo surgery and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

The Trojans had already lost veteran safety Josh Pinkard, a junior who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener at Arkansas.

Thomas battled an ankle injury earlier in the season but had recovered to share time at cornerback with Cary Harris.

-- David Wharton

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