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ASU Football: Sun Devils are on to New Mexico

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ASU is ready to put the Cal Poly game to bed and start focusing on the New Mexico Lobos.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While ASU football fans continue to sulk in the wake of ASU's lackluster performance against Cal Poly, at least one group of Sun Devils is ready to move on: The football team.

"We have pretty much moved on to the next week," Todd Graham said at his weekly press conference. "It goes down in the column as a win and nobody will ever talk about it after this week."

Every year, FBS teams are struggling with their lower division counterparts. In 2013 alone, Florida, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oregon State and South Florida all lost to FCS opponents. All that matters to Graham is that the Sun Devils came out with a victory.

"Going back and looking at the film, we just missed some opportunities," Graham said. "Bottom line is that, all over the country games like that happen. You want to persevere and come out on top. That's a game that you check off the list and you move on to the next one."

For Arizona State, the next one comes in the form of New Mexico. The Lobos fell at home to Tulsa 40-21 on Saturday, allowing 600 total yards in the process. ASU beat New Mexico 58-23 in Albuquerque last season. Although the Lobos run the triple option, it is a different look than Cal Poly's version.

"This is a different triple option team, they are not under-center, it's not a Navy flex-bone deal," Graham said. "This is a shotgun, triple option attack. Their quarterback and running backs are faster."

The good news for ASU is they prepared all last week for the triple option and the basic concepts are the same even with New Mexico's different look. Perhaps the bad news is that they have one less practice in pads this week because the game is on a Friday.

Graham acknowledged that the Sun Devils need to play better football. With USC looming, ASU does not have a ton of time to figure things out.

"Our guys had a really good practice today, we are moving on," Graham said. "Are we playing our best football? No, we are not. We have to get better. But it could have been a lot worse. It was a positive to face some adversity and win."

Ball Control

From Day 1, Todd Graham and his staff have preached ball security and fundamentals. In Graham's first three seasons, the Sun Devils were one of the top teams in the nation in turnover ratio.

This year has been a different story. ASU has turned the ball over twice in each of its first two games. Their turnover margin currently sits at -1. However, the Sun Devils have been putting the ball on the turf more than in recent years.

"Nothing is more important than ball security and taking care of the football," Graham said.

While ASU only committed two turnovers against Texas A&M, they fumbled the football five teams. Against Cal Poly, multiple punts were muffed by returners.

"I'm not happy about it," Graham said. "We've put the ball in jeopardy more in two games than we maybe did all last season. We fumbled the ball five times in the first game and lost it twice. We have to take care of the football and not put it in jeopardy."

The Sun Devils will continue to emphasize taking care of the football in practice.

"It's something that we start practice with every week. It's the most important thing," Graham said. "We have been top-3 in the country over the last three years in turnover ratio. That is critical, it's getting takeaways and taking care of the football."

Special Teams

After the ASU's special teams was much maligned after its performance against Texas A&M, Todd Graham took the time out Monday afternoon to praise the unit for its play against Cal Poly.

"I thought we improved dramatically on special teams," Graham said. "Our return game was pretty explosive with a lot of different returners. I thought we punted the ball incredibly. Zane kicking the ball off is a major factor when we get into conference play."

Graham mentioned punter Matt Haack a few different times during his Monday press conference. Haack averaged 46 yards on his two punts against Cal Poly. The Mustangs returned just one punt for zero yards on Saturday.

"He's a weapon when he punts the ball that high," Graham said.

Notes

  • Graham did not know the severity of Armand Perry's injury, check back tomorrow for an update on the ASU safety. Kalen Ballage was at practice Monday morning, but was a non-participant. 'Gump' Hayes is also banged up with a hamstring injury, according to Graham.
  • Arizona State is 104-34-2 all-time against Mountain West teams and the Sun Devils won 18 straight games against New Mexico
  • Todd Graham mentioned that he would like to see the offense move faster and break off more explosive plays.