If you are going to base your regime on a "high octane" mentality, running out to a 42-0 lead is a damn good start.
Todd Graham's Sun Devils did exactly that in his first game at the helm of the Arizona State program. ASU was impressive on both sides of the ball and dominated an overmatched Lumberjack team from start to finish.
The Devils began the game quickly. Starting quarterback Taylor Kelly was sharp in leading the the team down the field, and the drive was capped with a nine-yard Cameron Marshall touchdown. Marshall capped the next ASU drive with his second score of the night on a possession highlighted by a 49-yard reception by Chris Coyle.
However, Marshall caught the ire of Graham with a lost fumble, and did not see action again until the third quarter. That left the door open for true freshman D.J. Foster to deliver in a big way in the first half.
He was electric in the first quarter, rushing for 63 yards on just four carries and added 19 yards on two receptions. Those 63 yards were an ASU record for a player in the first quarter of his career.
Meanwhile, the new look ASU defense was going to work. They were relentless in pressuring NAU's quarterbacks and came up with several big plays. Linebacker Brandon Magee made a dazzling interception of a Cary Grossart pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown. The defense later knocked Grossart of the game, but his backup Chase Cartwright fared no better. He tossed two picks himself, including one that was returned 50 yards by Alden Darby to set up Michael Eubank's one-yard touchdown run to end the 42-0 first half slaughter.
With the game in hand, the Sun Devils took their foot off the gas a bit in the second half.
NAU followed up ASU's first "real" punt with a 34-yard run by CoVaughn Deboskie-Johnson and a 20-yard touchdown pass from Cartwright to Nick Cole. However, the joy was fleeting, as ASU blocked the extra point.
ASU answered later in the quarter with a seven-play, 74-yard drive that was capped by Kelly's first career touchdown pass, a seven-yard strike to true freshman Richard Smith.
Marion Grice them shouldered the offensive load in the final quarter. He scored two touchdowns in the quarter, giving him three for the game.
Ryan Woods saw action tonight at quarterback, raising some questions about Mike Bercovici. Those questions were answered after the game, when Graham said he did not put Bercovici in because he wants to try to redshirt him this year.
Observations and Notes:
- The team likes to give wide receiver Richard Smith some carries off of sweeps. He ran three times for 26 yards.
- Newcomer Chris Young was a force from the spur spot. He had team-highs in tackles with eight and tackles-for-loss with 2.5.
- The Kelly-to-Coyle combination could be one to watch in the coming weeks. Coyle had two catches for a team-high 65 yards, but was open on two more but was overthrown by Kelly.
- Kelly has no fear running the ball. He did not shy away from contact and took several big hits, something the coaches may talk to him about this week. He totaled 43 yards on six carries.
- Kelly also showed off a talent for punting. Forcing fourth and 18 at the NAU 39, the Sun Devils lined up as if to go for it, but Kelly dropped a pooch punt that was downed at the NAU seven.
- Defensive end Davon Coleman saw action as a goal line fullback.
- Despite so many close rushing scores, ASU seemed to struggle in goal-to-go situations, often requiring two or three plays to punch it in.
- Deantre Lewis had 12 yards on four carries in his first game since 2010.
- ASU ran some nice corner blitzes and came close to snagging some more sacks.
- Both Foster and Marshall were benched after fumbles.
- Marshall was also seeing time on the punt team in the fourth quarter up 57. Yeah...about that...
- Sparky Push-ups: 315