It was the best of halves, it was the most disappointing of halves. It was a half of dominance, it was a half of struggle.
Yes, last night's 51-17 victory over Colorado was certainly a tale of two halves. Over the first two quarters, the Sun Devils looked like their old, mistake-prone selves and clung to a 20-17 lead over a Buffalo squad that was a 23-point underdog.
However, over the final 30 minutes, ASU took CU behind the woodshed and laid a 31-0 whooping on them.
There were great performances and some that were not so good. Let's review them now with some position grades.
How does 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in Pac-12 play sound? That's exactly where Taylor Kelly stands after his sensational 308-yard and five touchdown performance on Thursday, while completing over 71% of his throws. Granted, Colorado's defense has a long way to go to be below average, but Kelly diced them up with his passing while also adding 85 yards rushing (67 after sacks). His upward ascent to the top tier of Pac-12 quarterbacks continues, and he now has a ton of positive momentum to take into next Thursday's huge game.
Running Back: A
It's tempting to add the title of "wide receiver" to this group after the showing Marion Grice and D.J. Foster put forth on Thursday. Grice caught five passes for 101 yards and three touchdowns, while Foster added six more receptions for 71 yards and a great diving touchdown. On the ground, Foster showed off his great speed to gash CU on some runs en route to 61 yards on his nine carries, and Grice had just one carry for no gain. An encouraging sign was Cameron Marshall, who had 98 yards on the night, including 67 and a touchdown in the second half...however, as he had twice before this season, he lost a fumble.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: B
With the backs having so much success in the passing game, the wide receivers and tight ends had a relatively quiet night. Rashad Ross and Kevin Ozier, the stars of recent weeks, each had two catches and 23 yards. Richard Smith resurfaced after not being a factor since the opener, as he had four grabs for 51 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown in the second half. Chris Coyle had some good blocks and two receptions for 48 yards that set up Grice's second touchdown reception, and Darwin Rogers had a 20-yard catch in the third quarter.
Offensive Line: A-
It was a strong game for the Sun Devil offensive line. ASU gave up three sacks, but two were arguably the product of Kelly holding onto the ball for too long. They helped pave the way for 261 yards on the ground, the most the team has produced against a FBS opponent, and the team averaged 5.9 yards per carry
Defensive Line: A-
Ho hum. Two sacks and three tackles-for-loss for Will Sutton. Par for the course. His tremendous play has become so great, that his performance against Colorado doesn't stick out as much as it should. Everything you've come to expected from him was on display on Thursday. The line as a whole wasn't as disruptive as it's been lately, but it proved to be a stout force that held the Buffalo ground game in check and did not allow CU quarterback Jordan Webb to get comfortable in the pocket.
For a while, the defense as a whole had some issues with tackling, as Colorado ballcarriers were able to rack up several yards after contact. However, that improved after halftime and the unit had a solid overall game. Brandon Magee has two sacks and a team-high nine tackles Chris Young had four tackles, one for loss, but dropped a sure-fire pick six.
Like the linebackers, the secondary had some battles with wrapping up their tackles, but overall had a solid game in limiting an already limited Colorado passing attack. The Buffs had just 180 yards, and completed less than 50% of their passes. Deveron Carr had a nice game in coverage despite a costly pass interference penalty in the first half. The safety duo of Keelan Johnson and Alden Darby was good, with Darby registering a sack and two tackles for loss, while Johnson flew around well and delivered some nice tackles.
Special Teams: B-
The major story on this front in the lead up to this game was the replacement of Alex Garoutte with Jon Mora as the team's kicker. Mora's first kick on the night was a poorly kicked extra point that was much too low and blocked. Garoutte replaced him and made all five PATs he attempted, although Mora did make one later, as well as a 38-yard field goal.
The return game was a mixed bag. Jamal Miles' miserable senior year continued, as he had a costly fumble on a kickoff that Colorado recovered and set up a field goal at the end of the first half. He was replaced by Rashad Ross, who took the opening kickoff of the second half 100 yards for a touchdown. ASU did a good job on coverage, not surrendering a return longer than 26 yards and an average of just 21.
Halftime Speech: A++
Whatever was said in the locker room worked pretty well.