The Arizona State Sun Devils continued their offensive explosion Saturday night with a 48-23 blowout of Pac-12 South foe Colorado. ASU led 24-10 at halftime and the Sun Devils were up by as many 28 points in the second half. The offense shined, the defense was dominant and the special teams excelled, let's give out some positional grades.
Mike Bercovici tied a career high with five touchdown passes against the Buffaloes. The ASU signal caller also rushed for 40 yards and controlled an explosive offense all night. Bercovici was not perfect, as the threw an interception on a read-option pass play in the first half and was off target on a couple of throws during the course of the night.
What has been most impressive about Bercovici the past two weeks has been his ability to spread the ball around. Six Sun Devils caught passes Saturday night and ASU was finally able to complete throws down the field. Three Sun Devils had a reception of over 20 yards. Bercovici threw across the middle, along the sidelines and we even saw a back-shoulder throw to Gary Chambers that was made famous by Taylor Kelly and Jaelen Strong.
Running backs: B-
It was a quiet night for the ASU running backs. Even though the Sun Devils gained 221 yards on the ground, only 66 of those yards came from Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard. The sophomores combined for just 23 carries, with Ballage getting a good chunk of his work in garbage time.
D.J. Foster broke off a 63-yard run in the second half and he finished with 80 yards on the night. Instead of attempting to establish the run, ASU used an ariel assault to build a 28-point lead in the second half. Richard was seen walking off the field on crutches, however Graham was optimistic about his status in his post game press conference.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: A-
It was a breakout game for Tim White as the redshirt junior tallied seven receptions for 144 yards and two scores against the Buffaloes. He had a few bounces go his way, but he seems to be building chemistry with Bercovici and building a better grasp of the offense. Devin Lucien found the end zone for the first time as a Sun Devils and even Eric Lauderdale caught a pass for the Sun Devils.
Tight end Kody Kohl recovered a fumble and took it 28 yards for the game's first touchdown and he also caught three passes for 32 yards and a score. He is a great security blanket for Bercovici.
ASU was able to stretch the field vertically more tonight than in recent games this season and White was a large part of that. The Sun Devils may have found their deep threat and with solid possession receivers such as Lucien and Gary Chambers and Foster's speed, this receiving corps just became a lot more dangerous.
Offensive Line: B
Mike Bercovici was sacked just once and Colorado posted only four tackles for loss. The Sun Devils averaged 5.8 yards per carry, although some of that is skewed because of the fumble recovery and Foster's long run.
However, the offensive line never really stood out during the contest, which is a good thing. Bercovici had time and the backs had running lanes, a solid effort by the players up front.
Defensive Line: A
The ASU defensive line dominated the Colorado front and it was not even close. ASU tallied 12 tackles for loss and eight sacks, not to mention countless other quarterback hurries and hits. Tashon Smallwood totaled four tackles and a sack.
Even though some of the numbers might not be there for the defensive linemen, they clogged holes and allowed the ASU linebackers to wreck havoc all night.
Antonio Longino, playing out of his normal position, was all over the field Saturday night. The senior racked up seven solo tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Christian Sam had six tackles, DJ Calhoun had three solo tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Salamo Fiso totaled six tackles, including two for a loss, to go over 200 career tackles. ASU's three leading tacklers were all linebackers as the unit had perhaps its best game of the season.
The Sun Devils gave up several big plays through the air, particularly in the second half. Colorado completed a 68-yard touchdown pass and a 67-yard pass that set up a touchdown in the second half as the Sun Devils struggled deep.
Sefo Liufau passed for 401 yards on 40 attempts as the Buffs played from behind all night. ASU contained Nelson Spruce, as the senior caught six passes for 77 yards. This grade is not lower because a lot of the passing yards and big plays ASU gave up were after the game was out of reach and Kareem Orr had an interception that set up an ASU score.
Special Teams: A
Zane Gonzalez hit both of his field goals, from 22 and 26 yards respectively. All nine of his kickoffs resulted in touchdowns which is a huge weapon for the defense. The Sun Devils still struggle when returning punts, however Dasmond Tautalatasi blocked a punt that set up an ASU score.
Special teams has gone from a hindrance the past few seasons to a strength for ASU in 2015.