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ASU vs. UTSA: Staff Gameday Roundtable

Find out how our staff sees the game against the Roadrunners going for Arizona State.

The Coloradoan-USA TODAY Sports

Our Panel:

Connor Pelton - Co-Managing Editor (@ConnorPelton28)

Ryan Bafaloukos - Co-Managing Editor (@RyanBafo)

Kaelen Jones - Football Writer (@kaelenjones)

Zac Pacleb - Football Writer/Multimedia Reporter (@ZacPacleb)

Blane Ferguson - Staff Writer (@BlaneFerguson)

Short Answer

Q: Besides Kalen Ballage, who impressed you the most in ASU's victory over Texas Tech?

Kaelen: My pick is Manny Wilkins, but assuming everyone else goes with him, I'll take N'Keal Harry.

The true freshman is everything he was advertised to be and more. He's assumed his role as the big X-target in the Arizona State offense, and he's a guy Wilkins can rely on at literally every level of the passing game: short, medium, and deep. He's here. He's real. And he's awesome.

Zac: It’s hard not to say Wilkins. He orchestrated the Sun Devil offense to his rhythm and cadence. He was safe with the ball but took chances. I’m not willing to say he improved since NAU because the offense against the Lumberjacks was so muted compared to what everyone saw against Texas Tech.

Blane: The decision making by Wilkins against Texas Tech thoroughly impressed me. He led about as efficient of an offensive attack as one could hope for and didn't turn the ball over once. It became apparent that he has the tools to run the offense Todd Graham and Chip Lindsey have implemented and I'm excited to see him progress throughout the season.

Ryan: I think most will say Wilkins so I will go ahead and say the Arizona State offensive line. We talked about four new starters coming into the season and then they lose right tackle Zach Robertson yet the Sun Devils still rushed for over 300 yards and did not allow a sack. Texas Tech figures to be improved defensively this year, especially up front and ASU had their way with them.

Connor: I thought Wilkins showed the most improvement from week one to week two, so that really impressed me. Texas Tech's defensive effort might have been horrendous, but nonetheless Wilkins looked like a legitimate Pac-12 quarterback. He made Arizona State fans forget all about Brady White and the offseason quarterback competition for one night, and if that kind of performance is duplicated throughout the coming weeks, the Sun Devils have a chance to surprise some teams this season.

Q: After two games of the season, which position group do you believe still has the most question marks ahead of conference play?

Kaelen: The Linebackers. You know what you have, it's just whether they can get/stay healthy. Let's credit DJ Calhoun in particular to this point; he's been great through two games.

Zac: The easy answer has to be the secondary, but in my mind, Salamo Fiso’s status is what confuses me the most. When will Arizona State’s tackling machine return, and how does he fit into the scheme of the defense right now? DJ Calhoun has been lights out and Carlos Mendoza hasn’t been a slouch either. That said, having depth in that part of the defense is always good, and it’s just a matter of time before Fiso joins his teammates once again.

Blane: I'm not even going to try and think of something besides the secondary. I know not every quarterback the defense will face is Patrick Mahomes and going to throw the ball over 50 times, but there are still plenty of talented guys in the conference. The Devils still have to face Davis Webb, Luke Falk, Josh Rosen, Sefo Liufau and Jake Browning to name a few, so the defensive backs still have their work cut our for them.

Ryan: I think it has to be the secondary. They have faced two very good passing teams and have struggled. The problem is they will face another seven or eight really good passing teams the rest of the way. Giving up big plays and busted coverages are still an issue and Arizona State still has to play Davis Webb, Josh Rosen, Jake Browning and Luke Falk this season.

Connor: The secondary. Blane and Ryan made a good point in that the trouble definitely isn't over for this group just because Patrick Mahomes is out of town. The Pac-12 is going to throw great quarterbacks and offenses at Arizona State week in and week out, and whether or not this group can keep up remains a huge question mark.

Q: The Sun Devils are going gold/white/gold Friday night. What is your favorite road uniform that ASU has worn or has the ability to wear?

Kaelen: I have a long-running affection for all-white unis. So fresh and so clean.

Zac: All white. It’s icy. It’s pretty. It’s clean. It deserves redemption after losing to Texas A&M last season.

Blane: I loved the 'Desert Ice' combination that the equipment crew assembled for the Texas A&M game last year, or the traditional uniforms with the Sparky helmet decal that they wore against Arizona a few seasons ago.

Ryan: I really like what the Sun Devils wore against UCLA last season. I vote for road Desert Hammer and I think we see them again this year.

Connor: There's no cleaner uniform in sports than the all-whites from head to toe. The Sun Devils should wear those every chance they get.

Pelton Bafaloukos Jones Pacleb Ferguson
Over/Under 4 combined touchdowns for Richard and Ballage? Push Under Under Push Over
Who leads ASU in tackles on Friday night? Orr Calhoun Perry Perry Calhoun
True/False: The phrase "Friday Night Lights" gets used at least four times on the broadcast. False True False False False
True/False: UTSA is within 14 points at halftime. True False False True False
Final score? 38-24, ASU 38-17, ASU 45-21, ASU 43-21, ASU 52-13, ASU