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ASU Football: Graham still concerned with special teams after Weber State performance

It certainly wasn't what everyone was hoping for Thursday night

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The special teams needed work after last season's notable problems. The Sun Devils had all off season and Arizona State head coach Todd Graham called it a, "point of emphasis" in fall camp. Nine months to improve anything, and the maroon and gold would certainly hope they could come out and perform on special teams against an FCS opponent.

The final word from Graham? A mixed bag.

Matt Haack punted the ball five times for 204 yards, an average of 40.8 yards per punt. He downed one inside the five-yard line in the second half. That's nowhere near where the Sun Devils apparently want him to be. It's an improvement over his 38.2 yards per punt last season, but Graham thinks he's more capable.

"I really was disappointed obviously on how we punted the football," Graham said. "Matt (Haack) has been good, Matt's a great punter, and he's going to be a great punter. He just had a bad night. I've never seen him punt the ball like that, but we believe in him. He's going to be fine."

Graham mentioned Alex Garoutte, saying he didn't kick boot the ball on kickoffs as far as he's been able to do in the past and a few came up shorter than expected in his mind. Garoutte had one 49-yard kick that allowed Cory Thomson to return the ball 30 yards out to the Weber State 46 yard line.He also had three touchbacks, but also kicked a ball out of bounds once.

The Wildcats averaged 19.8 yards per return on kickoffs, and there were many instances in which Graham said he believed the tackling was lackluster and the Sun Devils should have had players down inside the 20-yard line.

One place he was pleased was punt block, where Armand Perry got a hand on one punt and the Sun Devils got good pressure on Blake O'Neill's eight punts, forcing an average of just 35.4 yards per punt.

"Coverage wise we did good things," Graham said. "Our PBR team blocked a punt, that's my team. It's the only special team that I coach, and there are a bunch of guys on there that I am really proud of, that don't play on offense or defense, and did a tremendous job for us."

Haack, Garoutte and Gonzalez passed the early eye test to most people and the stats show that as well. The only true sore spots were Damarious Randall fielding a punt at the three-yard line and fair catching or letting the rest go. He only had one return for one negative yard.

Graham didn't think this performance was up to snuff, and since he does run the show, that's all that really matters.

"Obviously it's a win, it's one of fifteen, and we got fourteen more to go," Graham said.  "We have a lot more work to do."