Taylor Kelly makes his first career start tonight (Photo: ASU)
The game is just a few hours away. Speaking Victory is about to become tangible.
Hit 'em fast & kick 'em while they're down
Yes, this is a game against an FCS team...a run of the mill FCS team at that. A big game against Illinois looms. But that is no reason for the Sun Devils to overlook the Lumberjacks.
NAU has consistently played ASU tough in the series, and as the talent to do so once again tonight. The Sun Devils have the talent advantage at every position, and will need to assert their dominance early in the game. If they are truly going to be a "high octane" team, they will need to start fast tonight and erase any doubt of a win by halftime.
Channel their inner Patton
George S. Patton, America's greatest general, personified a mentality of always attacking an opponent. The Sun Devil defense would be wise to follow his example. All offseason long, they have worked to transform themselves into a potent defensive weapon, one that can attack an offense and wreck havoc in the backfield.
The defense should have a field day against an over-matched NAU offensive line. Players like Devilbacker Carl Bradford, defensive end Junior Onyeali and defensive tackle Will Sutton should be able to get into the 'Jacks backfield and pad their stats.
Find a playmaking quarterback
Tonight will mark the first career start by quarterback Taylor Kelly and the first ever game by Michael Eubank. While Kelly was named the starter, the quarterback competition is far from over for the Sun Devils. Viewed by many as the "safe" option until Eubank—a redshirt freshman—is ready, Kelly will need to come out and show that he can make plays, not just avoid mistakes. Likewise, Eubank will see time tonight, and will need to show he can be ready to be more than just a part-time player.
Become the Anti-Ericksons
The Sun Devils have led the nation in penalties in two of the last three seasons. They have also shown over the last two seasons that they are good enough to beat any team, except themselves.
No one expects a complete turnaround this early on, but the team MUST show that the discipline that Todd Graham has tirelessly instilled is taking hold. A low penalty total, limited turnovers and an absence of avoidable mistakes are essential in tonight's game.
Don't get hurt
Yes, this game counts. Play to win. But ASU should be able to win this one easily. A costly injury in a game like this could be trouble for the team given their very difficult September schedule.