After a sub-par performance last week against Texas A&M, the Sun Devils return to Tempe for their first home game of the 2015 season. Fans plan to pack Sun Devil Stadium in the hopes to see their team get into the win column and gain some positive momentum.
They will do so against a Cal Poly team that is coming off of an upset of Montana, leading them to a rise in the FCS polls. ASU will try to avoid another letdown and disaster. Here are five keys for ASU to leave Sun Devil Stadium victorious.
1. Get out of the gate quickly- It was a slow moving Arizona State offense last Saturday, one that never seemed to get out of the starting blocks. The snap count was off, there were too many three-and-outs and the offense couldn't capitalize on decent field position when they had it. That will have to change this week.
Against a lesser opponent in Cal Poly, the ASU offense should be able to do what they want, when they want. They should score early and often, to help get themselves in a rhythm for the long season.
2. Protect Bercovici- Speaking of snap counts, protecting Quarterback Mike Bercovici needs to be a priority. No quarterback can survive a season if defensive ends are jumping snap counts and getting to the quarterback like A&M did last Saturday.
Bercovici is not the most mobile quarterback in college football and he won't be able to break away from the pocket like his predecessor Taylor Kelly. The offensive line will need to turn in an inspiring performance this week, erasing the bad taste that last Saturday left in people's mouth.
3. Take advantage of turnovers- ASU's defense came through was some key turnovers against Texas A&M, setting up the offense to try to get back into the game. The offense however did not come through, either going three-and-out or turning the ball right back over. Against an FCS team, they may be able to get away with that but the team would be wise to buck that pattern this week, because Pac-12 teams will feast on them if they cannot take advantage of turnovers.
4. Keep the tempo quick- Tempo was a key to last week's game, and it will be for most of the season. Bercovici can maximize his strengths by keeping opposing defenses on their toes with an up-tempo offense.
He has the running game, and a guy like D.J. Foster that should help him keep the line moving. ASU's strength is going to be scoring points, and the quicker they can do that the better their chances will be of winning.
5. Special Teams- This has been a running trend over the course of the Todd Graham era. Special teams has been a big weakness for Graham-coached teams here in Tempe, whether it be running into the kicker penalties, muffed punts, poor decision making or lack of discipline.
Those are the little things that can help a team win or lose a game and more times than not, the Sun Devils aren't perfecting this aspect of the game. The issues won't be fixed overnight, but there is a lot of season to go and tomorrow can be the start of them turning this part of their game around.