Now that gameday has finally arrived, it is time to find out what our staff thinks about today's matchup between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Cal Poly Mustangs.
Ryan Bafaloukos - Co-Managing Editor | @RyanBafo
Josh Nacion - Co-Managing Editor | @Josh_Nacion
Blane Ferguson - Staff Writer | @Blane Ferguson
Kaelen Jones - Staff Writer | @kaelenjones
Kristina Vicario - Staff Writer | @KristinaV_18
Shane Theodore - Staff Writer | @shane_writes
Chris Schubert - Staff Writer | @ChrisRSchubert
Connor Pelton - Staff Writer | @ConnorPelton28
Last week's game against Texas A&M wasn't so hot for ASU, particularly the offense. Which one player needs this game against Cal Poly to rebound the most?
Bafaloukos: I think it has to be De'Chavon "Gump" Hayes. A lot was expected of "Gump" but a lot of people, including myself. Although he was featured a good mount in the offense, the big plays, the speed and the explosiveness was missing. He wasn't particularly great in the return game and he didn't make a ton of plays in space. I will be looking to see if he can find the endzone today.
Nacion: De'Chavon Hayes. The ASU media (House of Sparky included) is guilty of hyping Hayes' speed, but we didn't see it against Texas A&M. Now that he's behind his first-game jitters, he should bounce back against a slightly weaker opponent.
Ferguson: I'm going to say that it's one GROUP that needs to have a better game than the last and it's the offensive line. ASU has a ton of talent and potential in this group, it'll just come down to building a chemistry and finding their rhythm. Look for Evan Goodman to have a bounce back game now that he's not going up against Myles Garrett.
Jones: Bercovici is a tempting option, but it has to be left tackle Evan Goodman. After getting whipped consistently throughout their loss last week by Myles Garrett, Goodman has a chance to get back into form. For what it's worth, besides two plays (albeit two big plays), he held his own against Garrett in the fourth quarter.
Vicario: While he's not as vital as a part as others in ASU's offensive scheme, I think De'Chavon 'Gump' Hayes need to come up with a big game this week against Cal Poly. While tempted to say Mike Bercovici for his measly 25-41, 199 yard passing game attempt last Saturday, ASU nation seemed to cast a critical eye on Hayes despite the fact that he lead the team in all-purpose yards. Playing an essential part in filling the shoes of Kalen Ballage, Hayes needs to elevate his punt and kick returning role on special teams, as well as his .9 yards per run average in the backfield. Hayes may see his roles intertwine with D.J. Foster this week but wherever he is, he needs to provide the spark that ignites the team momentum on special teams, something that lacked for the large part of the A&M matchup.
Theodore: If he's going to get as many touches as he did against Texas A&M, Gump Hayes has to justify it with a much better performance. ASU's too talented to warrant giving double digit opportunities to a player who struggled to make the first man miss against the Aggies. The hop has yet to match the hype.
Schubert: Mike Bercovici needs to have a bounce back performance from last week. Not all of the offense's issues were his fault, but he is the leader and he needs to rebound to get the offense in a rhythm for the rest of the season.
Pelton: Mike Bercovici. When the senior quarterback had enough time to work last weekend, he did fine. He'll be going up against an undersized defensive line tonight and should rebound nicely from last week's performance because of it.
Cal Poly is known for its triple option and ran for a whopping 351.8 yards per game last season. Over/under that the Mustangs will rush for 200 yards against ASU, and do you see ASU having trouble with the triple option?
Bafaloukos: I will take the over here. I'm not saying that ASU will struggle with the triple option, but Cal Poly runs it so much that eventually they have to get yards. I say they run for around 150, but ASU still wins big and looks impressive.
Nacion. I'll take the under here. ASU's front-seven actually looked impressive last week against an SEC defensive line and didn't seem to be too rusty at all. They may give up a few big runs here and there, but I see the Sun Devils containing the Mustangs well.
Ferguson: The last time that I remember ASU playing an option attack was against Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl back in 2012, Coach Graham's first season with the Sun Devils. ASU dominated the game and won 62-28, even though Navy rushed for 313 yards (they only threw for 37 yards). Cal Poly might be able to rack up some yards just because that's their main attack, but I still believe ASU dominates.
Jones: I'll take the over, but feel quite unsure about it. I'm assuming Cal Poly won't stray too far from their offensive identity—even in the midst of a blowout. The only issues I could see ASU having with the triple-option is defending the edge due to lack of someone who consistently sets the edge besides Longino (who graded out as an 80.5 in Pro Football Focus' database). I doubt it'll be an issue against the Mustangs.
Vicario: I don't see ASU having trouble with the triple option, as defending against the run is something ASU seemed to take care of in last week's game. In Cal Poly's last matchup, 330 of its 386 yards of total offense came from the run while QB Chris Brown completed just four of his 14 attempts for 56 yards. The killer for ASU against A&M was relinquishing 247 yards in the air to the Aggies. I see ASU squandering Cal Poly's running game in this matchup and the Mustangs ringing in below 200 rushing yards against the Sun Devils.
Theodore: Over, just because that's what they do and they do it well. Cal Poly recruits for this system and is one of the upper echelon FCS schools. They may not hang with ASU competitively throughout the course of the game but they'll get their stats.
Schubert: Under. The first half may see some Cal Poly success with the triple option, but the ASU defense will make the second half adjustment to limit the Mustangs running game.
Pelton: I'll take the under. I think this could play out in similar fashion to last year's New Mexico game, where the Lobos used the triple option to stay with Arizona State for the majority of the first half before the Sun Devils ended up cruising to victory.
We'll see some new players get playing time in the likely event this game heads to garbage time in the second half. Which newcomer are you looking forward to watching?
Bafaloukos: The two guys that come to mind are Jacom Brimhall and Ismael Murphy-Richardson. Brimhall's story has been well-documented and this is probably the only game he gets in, barring injuries, so I excited to see if he can get into the endzone. Murphy-Richardson is a player who can contribute on defense, he was suspended for the first game of the season and I am interested to see how he looks as a Devil backer. If he plays well, he can work his way into the rotation with Antonio Longino.
Nacion: Well, Tim White finally seems to be healthy and even practiced at first-team wide receiver, so let's see if he can get some meaningful reps that can help him be a factor going forward into the season.
Ferguson: Manny Wilkins. I wouldn't be surprised if Wilkins sees a little bit of action late in the game. If he isn't on the field to end the game, then Cal Poly is on the verge of the biggest upset in ASU history. I'm interested to see how Wilkins looks outside of scrimmages and practices.
Jones: Renell Wren stood out to me during the spring game and drew some positive reviews over the course of offseason training/preseason practice. If Manny Wilkins sees any action, then him, too.
Vicario: I'd love to see freshman Nick Ralston see some time in the backfield if a potential garbage time scenario permits. With Ballage out and Hayes struggling to find his footing in the backfield, Graham might want to give Ralston some real game-time reps where the newest member of the Sun Devil running backs unit could potentially prove himself as another rotation for guys like Richard and Hayes when Foster is still at wideout.
Theodore: Devin Lucien. While we wait for Jalen Harvey and Cameron Smith to come back the Sun Devils are in need of wideouts that can break a defense. Ellis Jefferson and Gary Chambers have not produced like a WR 1 should, and Lucien's gonna need to start producing for this offense to compete with Pac-12 teams.
Schubert: If they are able to get way out in front, we may be able to get a look at Manny Wilkins at quarterback. With this being Berco's final season, it will be nice to see what ASU will have competing at quarterback for next season.
Pelton: Nick Ralston intrigues me. With Kalen Ballage out, the freshman has now had a full week of game prep to work behind Demario Richard. It is still unlikely that he receives meaningful snaps, but how he plays in garbage time is important. After all, he's just one fluke injury away from becoming the team's best option at running back.
Any bold predictions for this game?
Bafaloukos: ASU wins 55-10 and I do not leave the press box until well after 12:30.
Nacion: Hayes runs a return for a touchdown and Mo Latu records three tackles for loss.
Ferguson: My bold prediction: ASU has a kick/punt return touchdown.
Jones: Devin Lucien snags 3 back-shoulder passes on four targets. Finishes with over 100 yards and a touchdown.
Vicario: I see Christian Sam leading the team in tackles this week with at least 15, and claiming three sacks against the Mustangs.
Theodore: No not really, super pumped to see the Double Inferno though. 55-21 ASU.
Schubert: Five total touchdowns for DJ Foster.
Pelton: Maroon and gold fans are nervous when Cal Poly is still very much alive at halftime, but the team finally wakes up in the third quarter. From that point on its all Arizona State, and the Sun Devils cruise to a 52-17 victory.