Lets do some quick hits for the game +/- style.
- Rudy Carpenter: Who cares that this was against NAU? Rudy came out strong with a 22/28 (~79%), 388 yard, 1 TD, 0 INT performance. That was good for a 206.76 QB Rating. The spread offense is coming to fruition. Rudy also scrambled 5 times for 40 yards. Rudy tied a school record in the first half completing 13 straight passes.
- The O-Line's Pass Blocking: The young, inexperienced line which was so maligned last season only allowed 1 sack on the day, and according to most people, it was not because of any sort of physical failing but a mental mistake. Whether this matters is up for debate, but the line protected Rudy. It was NAU though.
- Mike Jones: ASU's #1 receiver came through with a big game against a lesser opponent, something you look for in college stars. 6 receptions for 162 yards (career high) and an average of 27 yards per reception. He had receptions of 52, 49, and a near-TD where Jones reached out for the endzone and fumbled into the endzone for a touchback.
- ASU's 1st Team Defense: Stoutly shut out the lumberjacks for 3 quarters, held the rush to 3.3 yards a carry, and harassed the NAU quarterbacks all night long.
- Fantastic Freshmen: 8 true freshmen suited up and got into the game for the Sun Devils, a good sign for the depth and for the future of the program.
- Special Teams: Weber averaged 44 yards per punt, hit all 3 field goals, and the coverage units held the 'Jacks to averages of 17 yards on kick returns and 8 on punt returns. Good stuff.
- The Run Game: Sans Keegan Herring, and not counting Rudy Carpenter's scrambles, the Sun Devils rushing offense managed 54 yards on 18 carries, good for a 3 yard per carry average. Herring could have played Erickson said, but they opted to rest him for the Stanford game. Nance, the supposed "Thunder", managed only 30 yards on 11 carries, but did manage to punch in two TDs in short yardage situations. Woods and Bass had 7 carries for 24 yards. Weak. This needs to improve, especially since this was just NAU. Maybe you can see the theme of this game.
- The O-Line's Run Blocking: Obviously in a spread offensive scheme, running is going to be a tad deemphasized,but the line clearly needs to work on their run blocking, and how to create better holes for the running backs.
- Letting Up a Tad: The Devils clearly let off the gas after going up 27-0 at halftime, and 30 to 0 in the third. After that the team got sloppy, the second unit defense looked soft, and Danny Sullivan looked like he forgot he played well in the Holiday Bowl.
All in all, a solid opening effort for the Sun Devils, with some key areas that need improvement. Stanford will be a good test this week at home, especially after the upset over Oregon State.