Coaches are rarely satisfied, but Todd Graham probably doesn't have many complaints after his program had their first non-conference shutout since 1996 in ASU's 55-0 win over Sacramento State Thursday.
Through Taylor Kelly's two-and-a-half quarters of action, he managed to notch 399 yards on 23-of-31 passing with five scores through the air (a career high). The defense held their end of the bargain as well, allowing only one first down in the first half of action. However, the high octane attack is what stood out most as the Devils cruised to 1-0
Mike Norvell's offense posted 38.4 points per game in 2012, but the 2013 attack looked even sharper with zero turnovers on the evening. Jaelen Strong looked the part of ASU's No. 1 receiver, tallying six receptions, 58 yards and one touchdown. The former Pierce Community College product was an obvious mismatch on the outside all game long as he showcased his jump-ball ability.
Marion Grice also caused problems for Sacramento State, accumulating 124 total yards and two touchdowns. Grice's backfield mate, D.J. Foster was unusually quiet. The Sun Devils attempted numerous deep balls towards Foster, yet none of the shots worked out. Foster received a mere carry for five yards and almost exclusively lined up in the slot. The hometown hero did haul in four catches resulting in 29 yards.
Veterans Chris Coyle and Kevin Ozier only combined for three catches but they made the most of that limited action, totaling 89 yards and two touchdowns. Neither showcased world class athleticism, yet the two reliable seniors continue to be in the right place at the right time.
As for the offensive reserves, Deantre Lewis stood out by displaying flashes of his freshman campaign. Lewis ended up with 105 total yards on ten touches. Michael Eubank was just as aggressive in his time on the field with 70 yards on just 3-for-4 passing along with a rushing touchdown.
One slightly concerning topic is the fact that the Sun Devil pass rush didn't get to the quarterback until around the ten minute marker in the fourth quarter (Out of curiosity, who predicted Antonio Longino to tally ASU's first sack?). To their credit, Paul Randolph's defense still forced four turnovers and shut the Hornets out which falls under the category of taking care of business.
Versatile linebacker Chris Young did seem to suffer a leg injury late in the second quarter but Graham said post-game that he believes it's only a knee sprain.
For the special teams, freshman kicker Zane Gonzalez hit two-of-four attempts. Gonzalez converted on the 40-yard and 29-yard kicks while missing the 49-yard and 33-yard chances.
Looking ahead, this type of dominating performance could leapfrog the Sun Devils into the top-25 before their battle with the Badgers next week. Arizona State is currently No. 28 in votes received though so they'll certainly need some higher ranked teams to fall before we start getting giddy over a matchup of ranked squads in the Tempe.