ASU Football: Game Ball Awards For The Win Over Illinois

Sept. 8, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini linebacker Mason Monheim (43) tackles Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly (10) in the fourth quarter at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

The ASU football team validated their convincing victory over NAU by dominating Illinois 45-14. The 2-0 Devils got some love in the AP poll this week, moving up to 38th in the country based on vote count. Now, it's time dish out our game ball awards to ASU's stars of the week.

Fabulous Freshman

Linebacker Carlos Mendoza saw extended action with the absence of senior captain Brandon Magee. Mendoza made the most of the opportunity with two interceptions on the night.

The second interception by Mendoza was an impressive acrobatic grab. Sadly for the Sun Devil faithful, Mendoza was forced to depart early with a shoulder injury. The severity of the injury is not known, yet shoulder problems continue to plague the ASU defense.

ASU's defense only allowed 101 passing yards, and a lot of the success against the passing game should be attributed to Mendoza. At 6'1", 217 pounds while running a 4.49 40-yard dash, Mendoza is an extremely valuable commodity and should be a staple in the linebackers corps for years to come.

It will be interesting to see how much playing time Mendoza gets when Magee returns to the gridiron. Mendoza's fabulous debut to the starting lineup earns him freshman of the game honors.

Perfect Quarterback Play

The two-man ASU system has been flawless through two games. Both Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank were excellent against Illinois, combining to go 23-29 with 318 yards and three touchdowns.

ASU's first 14 passing attempts were all completions, and the offense scored touchdowns on four of the first six drives. Through the Devils' 2-0 start, the team is averaging 54 points per game, ranking 7th in the nation.

Coming into the 2012 season, many expected the downfall of ASU to be quarterback play. Those doubts are beginning to be erased; Kelly has showed great composure and accuracy. While there may be no such thing as perfection, ASU quarterbacks were pretty darn close.

Speaking Victory Honors

Ever since Todd Graham took over the reins at Arizona State, discipline has been demanded from the team. ASU was penalized only one time against Illinois, and the sole yellow flag, a delay of game, was actually intentionally taken to set up an easier punt.

Fans of the maroon and gold want victories, but more importantly the Devils aren't beating themselves anymore. As long as the Devils avoid stupid penalties and turnovers, wins will be easier to come by than in years past.

Graham has ASU playing blue-collar football, focusing on the team beyond individual accolades. Beyond discipline, schematically Graham puts his players in the right situations on a consistent basis.

The future is bright under Graham; last night showcased everything athletic director Steve Patterson wanted to see from his new head coach.

Best Individual Performance

Under Dennis Erickson, ASU didn't use tight ends as receiving targets. The talent of Chris Coyle was wasted by Erickson and offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone. Under coach Todd Graham and offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, Coyle has become a focal point of the offense.

Coyle posted 101 yards and two touchdowns after just two quarters against the Illini. On the night, Coyle totaled 10 receptions, 131 yards and finished up with two touchdowns.

Coyle has impressed with his route running, and he seems to find his way open on nearly every snap. Quarterbacks Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank clearly trust Coyle and have entrusted the passing game in his care.

Not only is Coyle a great receiving option, but he also blocks very well for running backs Cameron Marshall and company. Coyle's success was jaw dropping, proving to be ASU's most well-rounded player against Illinois.

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