While the final score may suggest otherwise, the Sun Devils defense held its own throughout most of the game against Texas A&M. Prior to the fourth quarter (during which ASU was outscored 21-3), the defense bent, but didn't break, and should be credited for the Sun Devils even being competitive in the matchup for so long. With that said, these four players in particular helped carry ASU during the opener.
Salamo Fiso, Linebacker—Redshirt Junior
Fiso arguably made the play of the day for the Sun Devils, defensively.
At the start of the fourth quarter with ASU down three points, Texas A&M had the ball on the Sun Devils 18-yard line facing fourth-down and one.
Fiso split the offensive line and met running back Tra Carson in the backfield for a two-yard loss, stalling the Aggies' drive in the red-zone and giving the Sun Devils a chance to go down and take the lead early in the fourth.
It was a positive showing for Fiso, as the redshirt junior finished the game with 8 tackles.
Christian Sam, Linebacker—Sophomore
Sam provided the first spark of momentum on the defensive end for the Sun Devils.
After Christian Kirk returned a punt return 79 yards for a touchdown to give Texas A&M a 14-0 lead, the Sun Devils offense punted back to the Aggies on the following possession.
With the chance to force a quick three-and-out, Sam was able to reach quarterback Kyle Allen as he dropped back to pass, and ripped the ball away. Defensive lineman Demetrius Cherry recovered and returned the ball to the Aggies' four-yard line, and ASU would score on the next play to draw within seven points, giving the Sun Devils life.
Sam finished the game with 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, a sack and a forced fumble. In ASU's pursuit to find a consistent and dominant pass rusher, Sam demonstrated he at least has the potential to be just that against a very talented Aggies offensive unit.
Armand Perry, Safety—Sophomore
Last season, Damarious Randall recorded a high volume of tackles while manning one of the safety roles for ASU, and his replacement—Perry—may be on track to do the same.
The sophomore led all players with 11 tackles in Saturday's defeat, and will likely continue to start opposite senior Jordan Simone for the rest of the season.
Viliami Latu, Nose Tackle—Junior
Latu recorded a big sack on the possession following an ASU turnover early in the third quarter. The sack appeared to provide the Sun Devils with a jolt of momentum, although the Sun Devils' ensuing drive would stall after earning two first downs.
Latu only finished the game with four total tackles, including the sack, but he also came away with two tackles for a loss, as well.