New Mexico is far from an intimidating opponent for Arizona State, but stranger things have happened, right?
Well, maybe not. But still, the game has to be played before awarding a victory to the Sun Devils, so here are the keys to a victory for Arizona State.
1. Stop the run: New Mexico adapted the triple-option under coach Bob Davie, mainly because they have a severe lack of talent to be able to run a regular offense. But don't let a lack of talent fool you. The triple-option is a difficult offense to stop, because so few teams use it and in order to defend it, you must be disciplined. The Sun Devils have a young, inexperienced defense, the type that is ripe to be picked apart by a triple-option. New Mexico ran the ball 52 times last week. They threw it just nine times.
2. Get others involved on offense: If I were Mike Norvell, I'd tell Taylor Kelly to force the ball to other receivers this week. Why? Jaelen Strong is clearly ready for big games, but the Weber State game proved that Arizona State has no clear second option in the passing game. DJ Foster can't be the number two receiving option when UCLA comes to town, so Arizona State has two weeks to figure out if they can develop Gary Chambers, De'Marieya Nelson or Cameron Smith into a consistent threat.
3. Fix the coverage units: Against Weber State, many Sun Devil fans were expecting to see a new and improved special teams unit, especially on kick and punt coverage. Instead, they saw a mirror image of the 2013 squad, giving up consistently big chunks of yardage. Todd Graham has once again stressed his disappointment and commitment to fixing the problem at practice this week, but at some point, talk is cheap.
4. Let Mike Bercovici throw the ball more: Nobody wants to think about what would happen if Taylor Kelly got hurt, but with such a soft schedule early in the season, why not let Bercovici throw the ball more? Against Weber State, Bercovici was allowed to run the full offense on his first possession and looked good doing it, but then the Sun Devils went into ‘run the clock' mode. Get him more experience; you never know when it could come in handy.
5. Stay healthy: The Sun Devils did a great job of this last week, and it's important to continue the trend this week. As long as players are aware of game situations and don't make irresponsible plays, Arizona State should be come out of this game in good shape, too. There's always going to be freak injuries that can't be controlled, but playing smart, technically sound football can also prevent injuries, and that should be a focus in this one.