In order to win any game, special talents are necessary. Whether it's on the field, on the court or in digital form, savvy alone can not overcome a lack of ability.
The 2012 Arizona State Sun Devil football team will be facing some major challenges this season, but thankfully they also have many great abilities at their disposal.
Such game-changing talents are timeless, and should one let their mind wander a bit, they could begin to draw parallels to traits found in simpler, 8-bit times, when the cartridges of the original Nintendo Entertainment System powered a generation of fun.
With that angle in mind, here are four of the Sun Devils' most valuable skills and their NES counterparts.
Little Mac's battled through 11 increasingly tough opponents, and has earned his chance at the champ, the imposing Mike Tyson. This is it, the moment of glory. The bell sounds, Mac heads out to the center of the ring and...BAM! One punch from Tyson knocks Mac to the canvas. TKO.
Such is the experience of many defenders trying to arm tackle running back Cameron Marshall. The stout 5'11", 215-pound senior has displayed a wide variety of impressive skills during his Sun Devil career, from breakaway speed to the power of flight.
But nothing is as fearsome to a defender as Marshall's devastating stiff arm. The most prominent example came last year during an amazing 37-yard touchdown run. After breaking two tackles and running over a safety, Marshall unleashes a vicious blow to the head of linebacker Cameron Collins, nearly knocking his helmet off, as Marshall bulled his way into the endzone.
Sure, the Princess could float, Toad could pick plants quickly and Mario was the jack-of-all-trades. But if you wanted to reach new heights, you called for Luigi. With his legs flailing about, Luigi was the tallest character and possessed the greatest leaping ability of the heroic quartet.
The departures of Gerell Robinson and Mike Willie--both 6'4"--left a void in the ASU passing game for a tall intermediate and deep target. That hole may very well be filled by incoming junior college transfer Alonzo Agwuenu.
Standing at the same 6'4" as his Sun Devil predecessors, Agwuenu combines his height with a 33-inch vertical leap, making him a tremendous target and a player who can, as coaches like to say, "go get it". That ability to simply get higher than opposing defensive backs will be a valuable asset to ASU's passing game--which will feature a new starting quarterback for the fifth straight season--especially in the red zone.
Sometimes a regular ol' space gun will do to dispatch aliens or open doors. Other times, an explosive rocket is necessary, or maybe even a freeze ray. Maybe it is not a weapon, but rather the power to morph into a rolling ball or leap greater distances that could be the key to success. Thankfully, the do-it-all armored suit of Metroid protagonist Samus Aran can do everything a daring space bounty hunter needs.
Miles fills much the same role for the Sun Devils.
The 5'10", 180-pound senior initially saw time at running back, but has also seen extensive time as a wide receiver last season. His versatile talents allow him to take handoffs out of a spread set, receive swing passes out of the backfield, or make great catches downfield while lined up wide. Miles has even shown the talent to throw touchdown passes.
Not only a force on offense, Miles is one of the top return men in the entire nation. He ran two kickoffs and one punt back for touchdowns this season, earning fourth-team All-American honors from Phil Steele.
I tried not to go to the obvious comparison of Jackson, but in the NES days, there simply wasn't anything faster than number 34 for the Los Angeles Raiders. Seriously, no one could catch him, as this gameplay video illustrates.
ASU wide receiver Rashad Ross is not in Bo's class--as few were and are--but the senior does has amazing speed that began to blossom over the final three games in 2011.
It began against Arizona, when he used his speed to post receptions of 20 and 30 yards. He then broke out with a pair of catches over 35 yards, including a touchdown grab on fourth down, against Cal. Ross capped his season with a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Maaco Bowl against Boise State that was a prisitine example of pure speed.
If he can refine his technique in conjunction with his speed, Ross could be a major breakout star in 2012.
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