A pooch punt from Taylor Kelly on the first drive of the season wasn't exactly what Arizona State fans had in mind. But the rust quickly came off and the maroon and gold shined through with the help of D.J. Foster and Jaelen Strong on their way to a 45-14 victory over Weber State Thursday night.
Taylor Kelly overthrew tight end Kody Kohl and wide receiver Cameron Smith on the next drive, which ended in a Zane Gonzalez field goal, but Foster had enough inefficiency from the Sun Devils' offense.
"I thought we came out just a little lackadaisical," Foster said. "We expect more on our drives than a punt and a field goal. We definitely tried to guys going a little bit saying let's go it's time to turn it up."
Whatever Foster said, it helped. He rushed for 27 yards on the ground, culminating in a rushing touchdown from three yards out on the following drive. The No. 19 Sun Devils (1-0) were able to march down the field courtesy of two passes from Taylor Kelly to Strong for 52 yards which included an acrobatic 36-yard grab over the head of corner Cordero Dixon.
"Jaelen had a tremendous game," Kelly said. "He's a playmaker, he made a lot of good catches especially when we were backed up on the half yard line and caught that fade over the corner."
Foster and Strong combined for 256 of the Sun Devils 339 yards in the first half and Foster added two touchdowns on the ground. Foster also broke a career high 57-yard run early in the second half that put the game firmly away for the maroon and gold, giving them a 38-0 lead. Strong finished with 10 catches for 146 yards while Foster added 147 yards on the ground with three touchdowns.
It wasn't just the offensive side of the ball either. With 13:53 left to play in the second quarter, the defense stuffed the Wildcats (0-1) on fourth down at the one-yard line courtesy of Marcus Washington. Salamo Fiso led the Arizona State defense with seven tackles and a sack while the team forced nine Weber State punts.
"I loved that goal line stand," head coach Todd Graham said. "That's exactly what we needed tonight."
With the starters out in the second half, the Sun Devils let up 14 points after building a 31-0 lead at halftime. Billy Green completed a 19-yard touchdown to Shaydon Kohano to get Weber State on the board and Zach Smith scampered 60 yards late in the fourth quarter to put the Wildcats into double digits. In the process Weber State mounted 308 yards of total offense.
The only offense Arizona State mustered in the latter two quarters was Foster's long run and a drive led by Mike Bercovici that ended in a 15-yard touchdown connection with Ellis Jefferson. The Sun Devils didn't begin well and fell off in the second half, but what they accomplished in between was enough for Graham to be content with the effort.
"Our reserves and that kind of thing it makes it seem kind of sloppy at times there...I would tell you from a defensive standpoint that we had a good night," Graham said. "At the end of the day we dominated a team we should dominate."