On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Tempe, the Arizona State Sun Devils played their second spring game under head coach Todd Graham, with the Maroon team defeating the Gold team 24-22. The starters played most of the contest, with the first-team offense getting the best of the first team defense on the opening drive for a touchdown.
After that, the game slowed down to a defensive standstill. Both offenses had a hard time moving the ball with punter Dom Vizzare collecting six punts on the afternoon.
The scoring picked up in the final five minutes and the overtime period, culminating in touchdown receptions by Chris Coyle and Richard Smith. Now, on to what I took away from today's contest.
Taylor Kelly is One of the Best Quarterbacks in the Pac-12
This time last year, Kelly was the third-string quarterback sitting behind Michael Eubank and Mike Bercovici. Fast forward 12 months and Kelly is the established signal caller in the Arizona State offense. The redshirt junior went 15-21 on the day with 126 yards, two touchdowns and one interception (on a tipped pass).
Kelly controlled the offense, barking out the signals and making great decisions all day. On the Gold team's opening drive, Kelly was 6-7, finding Kevin Ozier, Coyle and Smith along the way to a Marion Grice one-yard touchdown run. He ran the read option effectively, rushing for 33 yards on six carries.
Coming off an impressive bowl game performance (17-19, 257 yards, four touchdowns), Kelly looks to be on his way to being one of the best quarterbacks in the conference.
It Remains the Chris Coyle Show
Coyle had an impressive spring game, catching seven passes for 87 yards and three touchdowns. He showed improvement in his run blocking and was a favorite target of whichever quarterback was taking snaps. The Sun Devil receivers struggled at times with drops, making the tight end Coyle a primed for another big season.
The only other receiver to catch more than four passes was Ozier (seven catches, 75 yards). D.J. Foster and Marion Grice both did not record a reception, with Foster not receiving any touches on the afternoon. Coyle was able to find open spots in the defense all day, making him an easy target for Sun Devil quarterbacks.
The Defensive Line Is Loaded
The Arizona State starting defensive line had a heck of a spring game. They stuffed the run and as a whole the defense recorded nine sacks. The starting defense recorded 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks on the day. Devon Coleman and Will Sutton both picked up two sacks for the Gold squad.
Except for the opening drive score, the starting defense held the first team offense at bay most of the game. Forcing two turnovers and only allowing 35 rushing yards.
The Secondary Might Be Better Than Last Year
Despite missing Deveron Carr and Keelan Johnson, the ASU secondary performed well at the spring game. Osahon Irabor and Lloyd Carrington were the starting cornerbacks. However, Robert Nelson, Marlon Pollard and Rashad Wadood all played well in the defensive backfield. The Sun Devils established that they have depth in the back end of their defense, something that troubled the team last season.
The Kicking Game Remains An Issue
Both Jon Mora and Alex Garoutte had difficulty converting kicks on Saturday. Garoutte missed from 45-yards and Mora missed from 43-yards (the Sun Devils did not keep official kicking stats). The battle for the field goal kicker will go into fall camp, however, the kicking game will most likely keep giving Sun Devil fans headaches.
On a positive note, new punter Dom Vizzare had a solid outing. Vizzare attempted six punts, landing four inside the 20 with an average of 45.3 yards and a long of 54. In an interesting note, Will Sutton and Carl Bradford saw time as the personal protector on the punt team.
Game Attendance: 6,386
Taylor Kelly - 15-21, 126 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT
Michael Eubank - 8-12, 88 YDS, 2 TD
Mike Bercovici - 8-13, 114 YDS, 1 TD
Taylor Cohan - 3-11, 20 yards
Marion Grice - 14 carries, 60 YDS, 1 TD
Marcus Washington - 5 carries 40 YDS
Taylor Kelly - 6 carries, 16 YDS
Dante Alexander - 1 rush, 19 yards
Terrell Davis - 4 carries, 10 yards
Taylor Cohan - 2 carries, 6 yards
Frederick Gammage - 1 carry, -6 yards
Chris Coyle - 7 catches, 87 YDS, 3 TD
Kevin Ozier - 7 catches, 75 YDS
Blake Covery - 4 catches, 46 yards, TD
Richard Smith - 3 catches, 56 YDS, 1 TD
Darwin Rogers - 3 catches, 34 YDS
Dan Groebner - 2 catches, 15 yards
Alonzo Agwuenu - 2 catchs, 6 yards
Gary Chambers - 1 catch, 15 yards
Byron Thomas - 1 catch, 9 yards
Frederick Gammage - 1 catch, 9 yards
Billy Davis - 1 catch, 5 yards
Terrell Davis - 1 catch, 1 yard
Marion Grice - 1 catch, -2 yards
Dom Vizzare - 6 punts, 45.3 avg, 4 inside 20, 1 TB
Sacks: Davon Coleman 3, Will Sutton 2, Carl Bradford 1, Salamo Fiso 1, Matthew Rowe 1, Gannon Conway 1
INT: Marlon Pollard 1
Fumble Recovery: Kipeli Koniseti 1