The end result wasn't shocking by any means, but Arizona State did what they had to do on Thursday night in blowing out Weber State 45-14. The game was out of hand early enough for Todd Graham to give significant playing time to young players.
A victory over an FCS school isn't cause for much excitement, but there were still some notable Sun Devil performances.
Duh, duh and duh. In the offseason, a campaign to get DJ Foster more preseason Heisman consideration was made, and he sure looked the part in the win over the Wildcats. His 15 carries for 147 yards on the ground with three touchdowns paced the Sun Devils, and he electrified on a 57-yard touchdown run where he spun off two Weber State defenders and sprinted past the secondary for the score. In his first season as Arizona State's top running back, he's showing that losing Marion Grice to graduation is less of a loss than the Sun Devils may have initially thought. Foster can run between the tackles well for a man his size.
Last year, Foster was utilized as a receiver while Grice took the majority of the snaps at running back, and Foster is a dangerous weapon when put out wide. Even with the his duties as the top running back, Foster still contributed in the passing game on Thursday, hauling in four balls for 26 yards.
After his first season in Tempe in which he caught 75 balls for 1122 yards and seven touchdowns, Strong had a monster opening night to his redshirt junior year. The Philadelphia product racked up ten catches for 146 yards, highlighted by a 36-yard grab that got Arizona State out of the shadow of its own end zone. Strong didn't find the end zone himself on Thursday but he caught at least one pass in four of Arizona State's seven scoring drives.
The Other Wide Receivers
Strong is elite, and he'll likely find his way into the top half of the first round in 2015's NFL Draft. But as I said in our staff roundtable, Arizona State needed to use their easy first three games to find a consistent option at wide receiver besides Strong.
Ellis Jefferson and Gary Chambers stepped up for the Sun Devils on Sunday, combining for 83 yards receiving and each scored a touchdown. Chambers scored his first Arizona State touchdown on his first career reception, and Jefferson scored on a 15 yard strike in the third quarter.
Todd Graham will continue to get various players snaps in the next two games against New Mexico and Colorado, but if Jefferson and Chambers continue to step up, the drop-off after Strong may not be as great as initially may have thought.