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A Good Night bRuined

In what started to be a pleasant evening in Tempe, AZ quickly turned into UCLA Bruin massacre of the Sun Devils. When the carnage was over it was UCLA 62 ASU 27. There are dozens of stats about number of scoring plays over 80 yards, number of unanswered points and points off turnovers to decipher, but in my corner of this press box, the worm turned right before the half.

Down 20-17 on the UCLA 17 with no timeouts, ASU has a couple of options. Kick a field goal and they go into the half tied and a clean slate. Throw a safe pass into the endzone or turn the ball over. ASU QB Mike Bercovici took option #3 and threw an ill fated pass into coverage which was intercepted by Ishmael Adams and returned 95 yards for a touchdown. In essence, game over.

The simplicity of that game description isn’t quite the narrative of the game. There was some flat out awful tackling from ASU, multiple turnovers and some awful defensive strategies. Looking at the pure stats of the game one would think the game was competitive and rather intriguing. Taylor Kelly’s replacement Mike Bercovici was 42-68, 488 yards 3 TDs. Jalen Strong had 12 catches for 146 yards. ASU doubled UCLA’s first downs 38-19, but when you’re running 80 yard plays and 95 interception returns, there isn’t a lot of first down availability. It doesn’t take much detective work to figure out between the turnovers and big plays thats where the game was won and lost.

When Bercovici was questioned about the pick six, he was very clear in his answer. “That was unacceptable on my behalf and it’ll never happen again. We’ve got a very capable place kicker to put up points.” Both Bercovici and Jordan Simone echoed the same thoughts about how this is a team and they win and lose as a team. The “Sun Devil brotherhood” as they called themselves. “We never Quit.”

With 60,876 fans in attendance tonight, a 12,996 record crowd of students made up a large chunk of fans that braved the 98 degree kickoff temp to #blackoutthebruins. Instead, the Bruins scored more points than any other opposing team in Sun Devil Stadium history.

“That was embarrassing”, is how Coach Graham started his post game presser. “Tackling was atrocious. We only played 58 downs on defense and we looked gassed and tired”. Graham continued with these comments, “We thought they’d get tired because they had to play over 100 plays on defense, but it was our guys who looked tired. We took a step backward in our tackling. I’ve never seen us do that before.” When asked about Bercovici’s performance, Graham had several thoughts. “Mike did some great things, and I’m proud of him. He started out nervous and you could tell by some of his early throws. They couldn’t stop us, our turnovers are what stopped us. And Mike and our team will grow from that. Our guys have character and played every play. Our big problem right now is our defense hasn’t played a full four quarters”. And that last statement worries me as the Sun Devils prepare for some real big games.

The sentiments of many of the ASU media circus, is of how this team will prepare for a tough Trojan team next weekend on the road. Not only have they faced adversity in this young season, but its officially slapped this team upside its face. Will Bercovici be settled enough to play a complete mistake free game? Can the defense find a way to tackle someone and play for a complete four quarters? Will the special teams step up to help the cause? These are real life questions the Sun Devils must answer if they have any chance to compete in the rugged PAC-12 South.

Getting Buff’d in Boulder

Leaving Boulder tonight with a win was a distant second in the minds of the ASU Sun Devils and their fans as both their offensive and defensive captains fell to injury. SPUR linebacker Viliami Moeakiola left the game with an apparent arm injury while QB Taylor Kelly left the game limping gingerly with a right foot injury. The 38-24 victory over the Buffs was a good road conference win but time will tell with how both injuries play out for the UCLA game in a week and a half.

Another stellar week week for Sun Devil running back DJ Foster as he rumbled for 148 yards and another 59 in the air for his second consecutive week with over 200 yards of offense. Taylor Kelly put up another great rushing day before his injury including a 50 yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter. There was never a doubt how the offense would function tonight as ASU jumped out to 17-0 early lead. But just like last weeks game in Albuquerque, the Devils allowed the Buffaloes to get back into the game with two 2nd quarter scores. Although Buffalo wide out Nelson Spruce will never be confused with recently departed Paul Richardson, his seven catches for 97 yards and two TD’s got the 38,547 in attendance onto their feet.

Although the Devils didn’t start the game with a defensive penalty as they’d done the previous two games, the ASU squad did amass eight penalties for 59 yards. Several of them were key in keeping some Colorado drives alive. The frustration on the field shown by Coach Graham was enough, I can’t imagine the dialogue in the locker room. During his post game presser Coach also pinpointed the costliness of that many penalties and how they can’t repeat this once they get deeper into PAC-12 play.

In addition to the penalties the loss of Taylor Kelly for any period of time is very troublesome for me as well as every other Sun Devil fan. While I’ve opined about the play of back up Mike Bercovici this year, this game was nothing to change my mind about his ability to lead this team. He looked a little lost and confused in the fourth quarter and the Buffaloes could sense it taking advantage of his tentative play. None of the three times ASU had the ball in the fourth quarter lasted more than 6 plays. Without a late 4th quarter interception by Sun Devil Christian Sam, the Buffaloes had some nice momentum to make this game closer than it should have been. Punter Matt Haack was stellar and took advantage of the mile high air with his seven punts averaging over 48 yards each.

Post game comments from DJ Foster as well as Jordan Simone both sounded similar as they spoke of ‘teamwork’ and what everyone around them is doing and less of what they’re doing. Of course they eluded questions about both Kelly and Moeakiola. Coach Graham wasn’t anymore forthcoming with comments regarding the injuries either. “All is I know is he’s out tonight and we’ll evaluate it tomorrow,” Coach Graham said after the game. “I’m very concerned. It was tough for us tonight, that’s part of it. You have to be able to respond. This is the adversity we talk about.” This was also the first presser with Coach that he commented on a lot of players and how hard they worked. He recognized a good 5-10 players on particular plays. The look on coach Graham’s face after this win showed deep concern. His star QB finishing the game with a walking boot and his team allowing a far less talented team stay in the game definitely was wearing on him. With two weeks in a row on the road experiencing this ‘adversity’ that the coaches have all been preaching about, the Devils have a monster game at home in a week and a half against the highly ranked Bruins of UCLA.

Just looking at the stat sheets there isn’t much that jumps out that this was awful game for the Sun Devils, but they did give up a lot of yards. The numbers that back up running back Kalen Ballage have put up are nice and I’m told by reporters closer to the program that he’ll be a great talent in the next few years. So if the injury bug strikes twice and Foster goes down, Ballage should be able to carry the load. As this team gets ready to face UCLA without Kelly, the amount of adversity multiplies exponentially.

Lobo Asada con Chili Verde

With the daunting stat of not winning a non-conference road game since Colorado in 2006, the Sun Devils traveled to Albuquerque to take on the Lobos of New Mexico. In the first game of a home and home series with New Mexico, ASU looked to break the long stretch of road losses. The good news for Sun Devil nation is they took care of business in front of 25,742 fans as they toppled New Mexico 58-23. The bad news is that it was another sloppy effort against a lesser team.

ASU’s main focus tonight was to control the triple option offense of the Lobos. And at times it appeared they faced this type of offense every week. On other drives? They moved the ball on the Sun Devils like they weren’t even on the field. And one word that has been heard in practice all fall finally came to light, adversity. Coach Norvell as well as Coach Graham have been preaching that this young team would be faced with it, and how would they react would be the question. Luckily the stretch of the second quarter where New Mexico scored 14 unanswered points to close within eight was stymied by halftime. “We’ve been preaching and preaching to prepare for adversity”, quoted Coach Graham. “And at halftime I told them to do what you were suppose do”. Evidently, many of the troubles the Sun Devils encountered during the that stretch was caused by players freelancing and not following the game plan. After listening to QB Taylor Kelly and Coach Graham in the post game presser, the message was clearly sent to the team that they MUST follow the coaches direction in the second half.

Besides that stretch in the second quarter, the game was never really in doubt for the Devils. Running back DJ Foster logged 217 yards on the ground with 19 carries. He’s the first Sun Devil to gain over 200 yards since 2001 when Delvon Flowers reached the magical 200 barrier. His first words when asked about the big game were pure praise for his linemen and Taylor Kelly. He almost tried to explain it was everyone else who put up those yards instead of himself. Kelly also had a big day on the ground with 97 yards including a 41 yarder in the first quarter.

Besides starting the game again (Weber State also) with a defensive penalty, the other curiosity of the first half was the two point conversion that saw De’Marieya Nelson throw to kicker Zane Gonzalez. It’s reminiscent of something the Oregon Ducks would try and also makes other teams in the conference think twice about what this team can throw at you.

Special teams was also something of some concern this evening. The short kickoffs can be attributed to the 30-35 mile an hour gusts of wind, but the blocked extra point, missed field goal and blocked PAT (lead to a 2 point conversion for New Mexico) are something that need to be fixed immediately before PAC-12 play begins.

Back up running backs Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard both saw extensive action with some good results in addition to wide out Cameron Smith. As young as this Devil squad is, these are the type of games to get as many guys action before league play starts.

The progression of ASU’s first three games are just what you’d want going into a season. starting off with a weak opponent and gradually working your way up into tougher competition. Coach Graham said during the post game presser that there was “marked improvement” over the Weber State game. But the guys were still making mistakes. The three fumbles (one lost) and four penalties ASU committed are a thorn in Coach Grahams side and he will make a concerted effort this week in practice on those issues. So with a ‘good’ win on the road and PAC-12 play beginning next weekend in Boulder against the Buffaloes, the Sun Devils can now focus on continued improvement as the first mid term exam will be UCLA in Tempe in a couple of weeks. As for me? I’m heading off for some BBQ and some more green chili before I head back to San Diego.

Let the South Title Defense Commence

Just like starting my 1965 Plymouth Valiant convertible, the Sun Devil offense took a little bit to get warmed up. And just like my hooptie, once it got going, it ran like a dream as ASU beat the Wildcats of Weber State 45-14 on a hot August night in Tempe, AZ. Weber St was clearly outsized and out matched by the 19th ranked team in the country in front of an opening night crowd of 52,133. Taylor Kelly finished the night going 18-27 for 238 yards and one TD in only one half of play. Nothing flashy or Sportscenter worthy, but a victory over a team that the Sun Devils had to beat.

For many in attendance, the absence of the north end zone bleachers was a little disconcerning, just as it was when the Carson Athletic Center was built behind the south bleachers in 1988. This game against the Wildcats was a classic lose lose proposition for ASU. Win big and thats what you’re suppose to do and barely win, then you’re a weak team. The general feeling around the press box as well as crowd tonight was the same, not a ‘great’ effort. You can afford to be critical when the expectations are high, and the expectations for ASU are indeed high after last years PAC-12 South championship.

The expected stars on offense, Kelly, Foster and Strong all produced up to expectations with yards and TD’s. The interest for most was what would some of the ‘new’ guys or back-ups come with both on defense as well as offense. Running backs Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard looked good in 2nd half action while receivers Ellis Jefferson and Gary Chambers had nice moments throughout the game including a TD each. QB Mike Bercovici didn’t exactly make to many heads turn going 6-12 for 65 yards.

A couple things of note include: a new record for student section attendance with almost 10,000 kids. ASU didn’t create any turnovers and had four penalties. The turnover stat is a believable one as the Sun Devils replaced nine starters this year on defense. Those nine became quite the ball hawking squad throughout 2013. The first play on defense resulted in a penalty on ASU. Coach Graham has zero tolerance for penalties, so those should be cleaned up within the next couple of weeks.

As for Coach Graham, he to alluded to the game being a little slow and sloppy in the post game presser. Perfectly understandable with all the new kids and it being the first game of the year. The schedule works out nice early for the Devils in 2014. Weber St, then on to New Mexico and then up to Boulder for the Buffaloes. An escalating level of difficulty leading into the UCLA game later this month.

Still Going Old School

In a day of instant information access through twitter, Facebook and countless other social networks I still prefer the ‘be there, gather and report’ ways of journalism. I’ve been referred to as a dinosaur, grandpa and archaic reporter when it comes to my writings and opines. Hell, I’m writing all this for a website, on a computer through a wireless connection, so I’m not that behind the times. Every year I am asked why I get up at an ungodly hour, drive through 3 hours of So-Cal traffic to sit in a room with countless other media types when all I have to do is connect to the internet on any computer, smart phone, ipad or television. I’m told that any pertinent info can be attained through websites or twitter which breaks news faster than any other news source in history, or uncompromising photos of people on insta-gram or Facebook. But then again, I’m still the guy that would just as soon call or talk to someone in person than have a text conversation.

So with all that mindless banter out of the way, here we are at Pac-12 media days. Expanded to two days (and thank the heavens its not four days like the SEC), the Pac-12 descended onto Paramount Studios in Hollywood, CA. Continuing the theme of media days on movie sets from the past years with media day visits to FOX, Universal and Sony, the PAC-12 is continuing to find new ways to show off the Conference of Champions. Commissioner Larry Scott addressed the media with opening remarks about how the PAC-12 went 6-3 in bowl games and how the conference added another 10 NCAA titles to its impressive amount of 469 to date. He also welcomed new-coming coaches Chris Peterson and Steve Sarkisian. I thought it was unusual he welcomed Sarkisian, in his first year at the helm of USC, but he’s actually been around the conference since 2001 with a year absence for the NFL. AND, he was the head coach of the University of Washington the last few years.

Some other news, notes, nuggets and comments from Day 1:

* Utah wide receiver Dres Anderson red shirted the final year the Utes were in the Mountain West, and he feels the move to the PAC 12 has really elevated the recruiting and talent level of players looking at Utah. He also commented on how his family is still split on his choice of Utah instead of his fathers (NFL great Willie ‘Flipper’ Anderson) alma mater UCLA.

* QB Sean Mannion is listed at 6’5″ 220 pounds and Connor Halliday at 6’4″ 197 pounds, both believable after seeing/interacting with them. Their slight of frame would lend the belief that they could be an injury waiting to happen. DE Leonard Williams listed at 6’5″ 300 pounds? I’d never believe it standing next to him. Maybe after a few weeks at Old Town Country Buffet, but not currently.

* Anytime spent with Washington State coach Mike Leach, is time well spent. I’ve had him on my former radio show as well as countless number of interviews. He speaks his mind with not much relevance to who is listening. His goofiness is such a dichotomy to his face he shows with his two published books on leadership as well as the American Indian Geronimo.

* And finally a nerd alert: This conference is stacked with quarterbacks for your PAC-12 fantasy leagues. There are more Davey O’Brien watch list candidates in the PAC-12 than any other conference. Curiously enough, that school down south doesn’t have one…….

Hunting in Mexico – How and Why

A huge shout out to Matt Woodward from Borderland Adventures for taking some time out to talk about hunting in Mexico!

1) So why Mexico?

Lots of reasons. It’s like southern AZ was, 100 years ago. Vast unspoiled chunks of the Sonoran desert. We hike into canyons each week, knowing we may have been the only person with modern equipment to have ever hunted it. It’s just a special place. Hunting that is relatively unspoiled is hard to find anywhere, and we have a great resource right at our back door.

2) A lot of people get concerned about the legalities of hunting in Mexico. Can you walk us through the important stuff?

It’s actually very simple, and your outfitter should take care of most for these details. Obviously, you’ll need a valid passport, and a visa on your way in. Your hunting contract and gun permit are the most important items.
At a vehicular crossing, here’s how it will go. Arrive at US Customs, declare guns, and present US Customs with form 4457, a declaration document that you can print off the internet, or get from an agent. Cross the border, present your gun permit and contract to the Mexican Customs (Aduana) for signatures and stamps, Proceceed to the local mexican military base, and repeat that same process. So, one stop on the US side, two stops on the Mexico side, and in reverse on the way out.

The smaller border towns can be a joy to cross in, while the bigger cities tend to slow the process down. I can get 4 hunters in, with rifles, in such a short time, that most hunters think we haven’t completed the process.

3) Can you describe some of the Do’s and Don’ts of lining up a hunt in Mexico?

Enjoying your time in Mexico is simply about the people that you are with. Grill your outfitter, see if you can get your actual guide on the phone, know that you can communicate with your outfitter, and that they know what they are doing. Do not get stuck with someone who does not know the ranch, or the game.
Call references, as many as you can. This is important. Try to dig for their honest opinion, how they really feel. Would they go back? Would they bring their wife? or son? These kinds of things will tell you a lot. Try to talk to someone that DIDN’T kill a deer.

Check your gun permit ahead of time. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but if you can, verify that the serial number and all the information on your permit are correct. If your gun permit isn’t correct, don’t attempt to cross it.

4) Tell us about a typical hunt – food, accommodations, guides, terrain, quality of game…

I can only vouch for our hunts, so I’ll give you a quick run down of how a hunt with us goes.
Day one, hunter arrives in Tucson before noon. We pick him up, and head for the border. We are across in about 90 minutes, including checking in our guns. Then it’s one to three hours to our ranches, depending on where you will be hunting. You’ll arrive in time to check the zero on your rifle, and maybe get quick tour of the ranch.
Our cooks take good care of us, at 7 pm, dinner will be served, then we’ll relax till bed. Hot showers and a private bedroom will keep you comfortable. Our crew will have your fireplace stoked, and stack of mesquite to get you through the night.

We’ll hunt hard, all day for the next 6 days, taking lunch breaks, and maybe a nap. You’ll see a lot of Coues deer….and some great ones. We are looking to kill bucks over 110″s, and we have an average of 112.3″. You’ll hunt with our experienced guides, who guide Coues deer, elk and other species throughout the Southwest. You’ll have no communication problems. Our guys know the ranches, and know the animals.

The terrain is as rough as anything in the southwest, but deer numbers are high, and you can make the hunt as easy or difficult (physically) as you want. You’ll use a truck to get from one vantage point to the next, then hike in after your buck.

5) Tell us something about hunting in Mexico that might surprise some of our readers..

There is not a 120″ Coues deer on every ridge…That might surprise some. We absolutely bust our tails down there to kill the bucks that we do, very few come easy. The genetics that we hunt can be hunted on leftover tags in AZ, we simply have the age classes necessary to produce big deer. Almost zero hunting pressure allows for extreme buck to doe ratios (1:1 in some cases). With all that taken into consideration, it can still take a lifetime to kill a jumbo buck down there.

6) Can you give us an idea on costs?

Coues Deer hunts range from about $2750 on the very low end, to almost $6000 for premium ranches. Expect to pay $4500 to $5500 to hunt with a reputable outfitter. I know some guys that will jump on that number and say that’s way too high to pay. I have dealt with and know a lot of outfitters in Sonora, and you get what you pay for.

7) Most of us know about Coues and Mulies – what are some other species you can hunt there?

It’s pretty limited. In most of Sonora, your outfitter can get you a Javelina tag. Javelina are thick in some regions. There are also Gould’s turkey to hunt in parts of Sonora, this is a spring season .

Mexico offers some amazing opportunities, especially if you live in the states along the southern border. A hope, skip and a jump and you are in some world-record Coues country! Know the rules, know the right questions to ask, and the logistics may not be as challenging as you think.

For more info, check out Matt’s website: Borderland Adventures. Again – a big “Thank You” to Matt and the guys over at BLA!

Fulfilled from Jay Park on Vimeo.

Comedian GARY OWEN at Stand Up Live in Phoenix on April 25-27! Five Shows!

Comedian GARY OWEN at Stand Up Live!

April 25-27

Don't miss Shaq All-Star Comedian GARY OWEN in Phoenix!

His star is definitely on the rise with appearances in movies such as Think Like A Man, Ride Along, Little Man and Daddy Day Care!

For tickets, call 480-719-6100 or visit

Gary Owen
Events subject to change without notice.

Simple Fly Fishing by Yvon Chouinard, Craig Mathews & Mauro Mazzo

I loved fly-fishing in my younger days, and probably miss it more than any other type of fishing. I was fortunate enough to grow up in Atlantic Salmon country, fishing rivers such as the famous Miramichi. That being said I had never heard of Tenkara – what a cool technique! I was fortunate to be able to view an advance copy of the book and I can tell you this will be a great book whether you are young or old, novice or expert – I guarantee you’ll learn something!

From the release:


Modern-day fly fishing, like much in life, has become exceedingly complex, with high-tech gear, a confusing array of flies and terminal tackle, accompanied by high-priced fishing guides. But in a long-anticipated book, Simple Fly Fishing, Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard joins noted fly fishermen Mauro Mazzo and Craig Mathews to reveal the best way to catch trout: simply, with a rod and a fly and not much else.

The wisdom in the book comes from a simpler time when the premise was the more you know, the less you need. It introduces modern-day readers—beginner anglers to master fishermen—to the techniques based on Tenkara fishing, which relies less on equipment and more on how to discover where the fish are, at what depth, and what they are feeding on. Then it describes the practices needed to present a fly at that depth, make it look lifelike, and hook the fish.
“This is a book for the young person who has wanted to learn, but is intimidated by the complexity, elitism, and expense of the sport,” says Chouinard, a Tenkara enthusiast. “For the woman and her daughter who are put off by the image of the testosterone-fueled, good old boy bass and trout fisherman who turned the ‘contemplative pastime’ into a competitive combat sport. And for the long time angler who has everything and wants to replace all that stuff with skill, knowledge, and simplicity.”

With chapters on wet flies, nymphs, and dry flies, the authors employ both the Tenkara rod as well as regular fly fishing gear to cover all the bases. Illustrated by renowned fish artist James Prosek, with inspiring photographs and stories throughout, Simple Fly Fishing reveals the secrets and the soul of this captivating sport.

Patagonia Books is intended as a way to advance our love of books as well as nature and a reflective life. We publish a select number of titles on wilderness, wildlife, and outdoor sports that inspire and restore connection to the natural world. We also present books that raise awareness about not only the environmental challenges our world faces, but suggest ways that we can work together to slow the disintegration of our planet. This includes immediate activities, such as strategies to reduce our carbon footprint, as well as more in-depth examinations of the meanings of affluence, consumerism, and capitalism in the 21st Century.

We believe that books are still the most important medium for passing our values to the next generation. The titles we publish reflect the principles that guide the business and personal lives of many of us who work at Patagonia and many who participate in the sports we support. These include the vow to lead an examined life, to do what we can as individuals and as a company to make a difference to the environmental challenges we all face, and to hold up our company, with full transparency and honesty, as an example for other businesses.

Huddle Up at for the SOULFUL Super Bowl XLIX Events in Arizona!

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