As the Sun Devil offense continues to inch its way closer to finding top form, the defense looks to prove its one of the best in the country. Let's take a look at the key performers who led ASU to its second win of the season.
Demario Richard, RB (No. 4)—Sophomore
This guy is good. Really good, and he's only a sophomore.
The 5-foot-10, 220-pound tank tabbed "Super Demario" and "Baby Beast Mode" went for a career night against New Mexico. Richard tallied 104 rushing yards on 15 carries (6.9 yards per rush), including a 33-yard touchdown. To add to that, he caught four passes for 151 yards (most receiving yards by a running back in program history) and two touchdowns (including a 93-yard reception—tied for the second-longest completion in school history).
Richard ended up reaching 255 all-purpose yards, and apart from a drop late in the game, he had a sensational showing. Now averaging 100 rushing yards a game on 5.36 yards per carry this season, it will be interesting to see if Richard continues to see his touches and workload increase as the season progresses.
Mike Bercovici, QB (No. 2)—Redshirt Senior
It's no secret that Bercovici's skillset isn't the perfect match to offensive coordinator Mike Norvell's offense. Nevertheless, it seems as though the two are beginning to make it work, and Bercovici's play was the beneficiary against the Lobos. After starting the game just 5-of-13, he completed 10 consecutive passes, manufacturing two scoring drives in the process. That stretch was followed up by a connection with Richard for a 93-yard touchdown pass.
Bercovici finished the game with an impressive passing line of 22-of-37 for 317 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Just as impressive was how much the opposition opened up after he kept two read-option plays on the opening drive of the second half before he scampered into the end-zone himself on an 8-yard run to cap the third drive of the third quarter. The only blunder made during the contest by No. 2 was a missed intentional grounding penalty, which thankfully wasn't called, and was made up for with a touchdown strike.
Ultimately, Bercovici's apparent willingness to adapt to Norvell's play-calling opened the opportunity for Richard to have a big day, and enabled the Sun Devils offense to appear in sync throughout much of the second half.
Tim White, WR (No. 12)—Redshirt Junior
It's only fitting that White established himself as possibly being the Sun Devils' best big-play threat in what was the school's "White Out Game." Offensively, the redshirt junior managed to score the first touchdown of the game for ASU just ahead of halftime, giving the Sun Devils offense a confidence that seemed to carry the rest of the game. In the absence of receiver Devin Lucien, White would go on to finish the game with four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown on five targets.
White was also a key contributor in the special teams realm, too. Aside from a muffed punt in the third quarter, he performed well, tallying two tackles in kickoff coverage and registering a 34-yard kickoff return.
Jordan Simone, S (No. 38)—Redshirt Senior
Simone was active throughout the game, finishing with 10 tackles (7 solo, 3 assists), including two for a loss. His high-effort contribution in stuffing the opposing running game trickled into his service in defending the Lobos' passing game too, as he ended up collecting a game-sealing interception, a pass breakup and a sack. The heralded defensive captain will look to sustain this type of performance heading into conference play.
Salamo Fiso, LB (No. 58)—Redshirt Junior
With the absence of nose tackle Viliami Latu, the Sun Devils defense needed an anchor in the front-seven to step up against the rushing attack of the Lobos. Fiso proved to be just that, tying with Simone for the most tackles during the game, coming away with 10 takedowns (8 solo, 2 assists). Fiso's impact was especially felt in the first half, during which he racked up nine tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. His presence was key in containing the New Mexico running attack, as ASU was able to limit their opponents to just 184 rushing yards.