With the start of the Arizona State football season just days away, the team is in full preparation for their first game of the season. Following the norm around college football, the Sun Devils will open up at home against an FCS opponent. Last season it was Northern Arizona and this season it is Sacramento State Hornets.
The Hornets opened their 2013 campaign on Saturday with a 24-0 loss against San Jose State. Sacramento State finished 2012 with a 6-5 mark including a victory over Colorado. The Hornets have beaten a Pac-12 school two years in a row and the Sun Devils are trying to stop that streak in 2013.
I recently talked with offensive coordinator Mike Norvell after a Sun Devil practice to get his thoughts on Sacramento State and some things he looks for in the first game of the season.
House of Sparky: What do you know about Sacramento State?
Mike Norvell: "Since we broke camp it is all we have been focused on. Our guys have done a really good job of studying them and we are getting a lot of different looks on them."
HoS: As a coach, what do you look for in the first game of the season?
MN: "You want to execute. Obviously it is the first time a lot of these guys are playing under the lights. We want to make sure we go out there and get the tempo going and we want to execute."
HoS: Are there any players specifically that you are looking forward to seeing under the lights for the first time?
MN: "Obviously you look at Jaelen (Strong), you look at guys who are new to the program. Ellis Jefferson and Tyler Sulka getting his first start at right tackle and a part of that starting group. Watching the growth of guys like D.J. Foster and Deantre Lewis, those are all guys I am looking forward to seeing big things from week one."
HoS: How do you keep the players from not looking ahead past Sacramento State to Wisconsin?
MN: "It's not hard, they know that you only get 12 opportunities. Sacramento State has done a great job the past few years, every time they have played a Pac-12 opponent the past few years they have come out victorious. Our guys have one focus and it is Sacramento State and that is what we are preparing for."
HoS: What is your opinion on having a bye in the first week of the season?
MN: "You can't do anything with the schedule, it is what it is. Our guys are approaching this like a normal week and moving forward, trying to flow in our execution and get our tempo going but we can't do anything about the schedule."
HoS: What specifically are you looking for against Sacramento State that will make you count the game as a success?
MN: "We have to play our type of football. I want to establish the run, we have to get that physical mentality going. We want to have zero turnovers and zero penalties and hopefully get some big plays."