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ASU Football: What We Learned from the 45-14 Win

Michael Eubank has been excellent in spot duty (Photo: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE)
Michael Eubank has been excellent in spot duty (Photo: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE)

After Arizona State dismantled NAU on opening night, there was excitement, yet there were still many some who questioned how good this Sun Devil team truly was.

Following Saturday's decisive 45-14 win over Illinois, there may not been many doubters left. The Sun Devils fired on all cylinders for a second-straight game to open the Todd Graham era.

We've handed out our team grades, so now it's time to examine the key lessons to take away from Saturday.

Chris Coyle is legit

We've been high on Chris Coyle all offseason long. His talent and the new offensive scheme seemed to be in perfect harmony, and his opening night performance hinted at his potential.

On Saturday, he showed exactly what he could do. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder dominated the intermediate areas and was the go-to target for both Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank. He hauled in 10 passes for 131 and two touchdowns, and showed off some powerful running after his catches.

Should he continue his ascent, he could be the next great addition to ASU's tight end legacy.

This offensive line is transitioning from a question into an answer

Sure, they pushed around NAU. They were supposed to push around NAU. Facing an aggressive, talented and relentless Illinois defense, ASU's offensive line figured to have their hands full.

Not so much.

Time after time, the line held back back the Illini rush. Kelly and Eubank had plenty of time to sit back and get comfortable in the pocket, and they paved the way for a running game that racked up 192 yards on a defense that held Western Michigan to -6 yards last week.

All told, it was a banner performance for a unit that began the year as a major question mark.

Two may be better than one, for now

The old adage of a team having two quarterbacks actually having none is being undone with each passing week at ASU.

Kelly was again excellent, completing 18 of his 24 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. Michael Eubank was perfect on all five of his passes for 69 yards and threw a pair of scores to Coyle. He also had an acrobatic touchdown run in the fourth quarter in which he did a Superman leap to the pylon.

Through two games, the duo has thrown for 567 yards and four touchdowns, run for 141 and two more. And best of all? No turnovers.

Chris Young, leather-seeking missile

After a highly productive juco career, much was expected from the ultra-talented Chris Young. He shook off a slow start to fall camp with a sterling opening night effort, leading the team with eight tackles and 2.5 tackles-for-loss.

He followed that up with another great performance against Illinois.

Young showed off his great instincts and unbelievable closing speed once again against Illinois. He had another 2.5 tackles-for-loss and had half a sack.

Young has become a very deadly weapon for the Sun Devil defense from his spot as the spur linebacker.

The players have bought what Todd Graham has been selling

It may be safe to say that the demons from the Dennis Erickson era have been exorcised.

This Sun Devil team has bought in to the "Speaking Victory", "High Octane" and "All In" mantras that Graham has been using to help embody the on-field and cultural changes he has implemented.

On the field, the team is focused, sharp and playing hard on every snap. They are no longer their own worst enemy. On Saturday, they had one penalty, and that was an intentional delay of game flag to give the punt team some more room.

If they can maintain this high-level of discipline and controlled intensity, this is a squad that is poised to greatly exceed expectations in 2012.

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