clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ASU Football: Gameday roundtable vs. New Mexico

New, 5 comments

Find out right here what our staff thinks of today's tilt with New Mexico.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

In case you hadn't heard yet, New Mexico runs a triple-option offense. The idea is to leave the defense guessing and having to come up with answers. But our staff is ahead of the game, coming up with answers already and giving our predictions for this afternoon's matchup.

Our panel:
Justin Emerson: Managing Editor (@J15Emerson)
Nick Krueger: Managing Editor (@NickPKrueger)
Jason Galvin: Columnist (@Jason_Galvin)
Ryan Bafaloukos: Staff writer (@RyanBafo)
Shane Theodore: Staff writer (@shane_writes)
Connor Pelton: Staff writer (@ConnorPelton28)

Last week was the DJ Foster-Jaelen Strong show. Do you expect more of the same against New Mexico?
Emerson: I believe that excluding every one else was a conscious effort. UCLA knows that Arizona State is going to attack with Foster and Strong, and stopping them is the issue. Why give opponents film on other players when you don't need to? They were going to beat Weber State, and they're going to beat New Mexico. Yes, only Foster and Strong will be involved because that's what Todd Graham wants future opponents to see.

Krueger: As the saying goes, "If it isn't broken, don't fix it." I do think Foster and Strong will provide similar numbers in week two, but I would like to see some more wide receivers such as Cameron Smith get targeted more to have some confidence going into conference play.

Galvin: Sadly, yes. I don't agree with this, but my takeaway from the Weber State game was that the offense is going to do what they're comfortable with, and instead of focusing on developing other options, the team wants to fortify the Foster/Strong/Kelly combination.

Bafaloukos: I see a lot of Jaelen Strong and DJ Foster again this week against New Mexico. Foster should his dynamic playmaking ability against Weber State and I expect to see him a lot more in the passing game today. The fact is, Taylor Kelly knows he can throw the ball to Strong all day and there is not much teams can do to defend it. I see Kelly targeting Strong a lot this evening.

Theodore: I expect Foster and Strong to be key contributors in the win, but I loved the production from Gary Chambers and Ellis Jefferson in the win over Weber State and think they're primed to get more of the ball distribution.

Pelton: I do expect more of the same, with an even larger dependence on Foster. New Mexico gave up more than 300 yards on the ground last week against UTEP and it shouldn't be hard for Arizona State to replicate that kind of production.

DJ Calhoun burst onto the scene in his first college game against Weber State. How much can we draw from last week's game, considering the quality of opponent?
Emerson: DJ Calhoun could be the next great Sun Devil linebacker. But I'm not going to anoint him the second coming after a good game against a bad team. He's good, and if he repeats what he did last week against better opponents, he'll have a successful career here.

Krueger: It was expected in some sense because of the opponent. I'll buy into him after a few conference games, but it's tough to draw any conclusions from preliminary out of conference games. As long as he continues to prove that he's a player that other teams need to game plan for on defense, then he's going to have a lot of staying power in Todd Graham's defense. He will need to prove himself again this week because as Carlos Mendoza gets healthier, his starting spot could be on the line again.

Galvin: Well I don't know that he burst onto the scene. He did what he was asked, and he didn't make any mistakes, which was key. I'm more interested in seeing Calhoun when a team like UCLA, with an advanced offense, comes to town. This week could be interesting because of the triple-option offense New Mexico runs, as we'll get to see just how disciplined Calhoun can play.

Bafaloukos: I think we can draw the fact that DJ Calhoun is a playmaker and has a knack for finding the football. You cannot teach this and it is one of the most important traits a linebacker can have. Calhoun had all the physical tools when he came out of high school, and Thursday night's showing revealed he is also mentally sharp.

Theodore: Calhoun is a hell of a linebacker. He is simply too small to play at Devilbacker but his skillset fits perfectly into the WILL spot. Calhoun's switch from USC to ASU completely changed the outlook of Graham's 2014 class and he's shaping up to be one of the best players from that class. Expect big things from Calhoun as he continues to grow.

Pelton: Well, a performance like that certainly isn't a bad thing. Did the opponent make it easier to have a breakout game? Of course. But you have to start somewhere, and I think Calhoun continues to produce at a steady pace this week.

Is this as surefire a win as Weber State was? Or do maybe the Sun Devils have something to worry about? Why?
Emerson: This has all the makings of a trap game. New Mexico is way better than Weber State, but not good enough that anyone is picking the Lobos. Arizona State has lost weirder games than this, like the last time a team from New Mexico lined up, but Todd Graham has been known to keep his teams focused and not let that happen. Still, the spread is 25, and I would be very hesitant to put a dime on Arizona State to cover.

Krueger: As many have pointed out, the only true cause for concern is the triple option that New Mexico runs on offense. As long as Todd Graham has his defense adequately prepared for that (and I trust that he does) the Sun Devils shouldn't have any problems.

Galvin: I actually think this game is more of a lock than Weber State was. Week one is always a trap, and playing an FCS team always puts players in a different mindset. I think the offense comes out clicking this week, which wasn't the case against Weber State. The defense should also have more confidence heading into this one.

Bafaloukos: I do not think Arizona State has much to worry about stemming off their performance against Weber State. There are always kinks to work out in the first game of the season, that is why you schedule teams like Weber State. I would expect to see a cleaner game in terms of execution from the Sun Devils today.

Theodore: As I pointed out in my Cynical Sun Devil piece, Arizona State hasn't won their first road game since 2007. Now granted, New Mexico is a much easier opponent than the ones they've lost to on the road from 2008-2013, but it's still cause for concern. If New Mexico stays competitive through the half it could be dangerous for the Sun Devils. I doubt Arizona State lets the game stay close though.

Pelton: No, it's not as surefire a win as last week, but at the same time I don't think there's anything to worry about. This is a bad Lobo team, especially when they don't have their first string quarterback. The triple option may give Arizona State some fits early on, but eventually the better athletes will win out.

The triple-option is a unique scheme Arizona State hasn't seen since Navy in the Fight Hunger Bowl two seasons ago. Who is the defensive key to shutting down New Mexico?
Emerson: Salamo Fiso all day. It's going to be a linebacker who plays in the middle of the field, who is quick enough to watch the running back, while keeping an eye on the quarterback, while being ready to drop back into coverage. I think Fiso's the guy.

Krueger: The corners like Lloyd Carrington will need to step up and they haven't been talked about enough this week honestly. They'll have pitch man responsibility, so they'll need to shed blocks quickly and wrap up well in the open field.

Galvin: Salamo Fiso. The leader of the linebacker group for Arizona State has to patrol the middle of the field and not be overly aggressive in this one. There's no reason Fiso shouldn't rack up 10-15 tackles, and he will be the key to shutting down the dive option.

Bafaloukos: The key to stopping the triple option is play disciplined and hold onto your assignment. The defensive coaches preached assignment football this week. That means, if somebody has the quarterback on the option, stay on the quarterback. The Sun Devils won't need to worry about much of a pass rush as New Mexico threw the ball just nine times in their last game. Another key would be tackling, the Sun Devils cannot miss too many tackles against the run-oriented offense of New Mexico.

Theodore: I'm gonna go with DJ Calhoun. His speed and ability to get anywhere on the field quickly will come in handy against the speed-and-surprise-oriented offense that New Mexico runs.

Pelton: I'll say someone like Calhoun. Linebacker play is key to slowing down the quarterback in the triple option attack, and Calhoun should have plenty of opportunities against it to build on his terrific performance from last week.

Give us your final score and one other prediction for the game.
Emerson: 45-27 Arizona State. New Mexico scores in every quarter and keeps the defense's heart pounding.

Krueger: Arizona State 48, New Mexico 13. The starters should stay in a few more series on Saturday. I'll be monitoring the first few drives specifically to see if the Sun Devils can come out stronger than they did against Weber State and how they handle the triple option as well

Galvin: 59-10 Arizona State. The Sun Devils fail to force a turnover for the second consecutive game.

Bafaloukos: Arizona State 38, New Mexico 14. The Sun Devils have two players run for over 100 yards.

Theodore: 55-21 Arizona State. The Sun Devils force three turnovers.

Pelton: Arizona State 49, New Mexico 24. The Lobos only trail by 11 points or less at halftime.