The thing that impressed me most about Manny Wilkins in this game was his body language. It could have been easy for him to become frustrated with his performance and sulk on the sideline, but he didn't. I don't think we will have to worry about Wilkins' attitude or resolve while he's with the Arizona State Sun Devils.
He wasn't as efficient as he was in the game against Texas Tech, but he led a comeback win on the road and only threw one interception. I'll take that for a young quarterback making his first road start.
Running Backs: C+
I'm going to put Kalen Ballage's punt-returning performance in this section and that's why the grade is this low. Demario Richard had his steady performance as per usual. Watching him get low to the ground and defenders just bounce off of him is probably my favorite aspect of an ASU game. He hasn't shown his big-play capabilities yet this season, but he constantly pounds the rock and I trust him to get positive yards when we need it.
As for Ballage, look, it's tough to follow up an eight touchdown performance where you tie the NCAA record for touchdowns in a game. Ballage wasn't really able to get a rhythm going and ASU, for some reason, barely used the "Sparky" formation that looked unstoppable against the Red Raiders. Ballage made a costly mistake by attempting to field a bouncing punt that gave UTSA a touchdown three plays later. I expect a bounce back game against Cal next week.
Receivers/Tight Ends: B
N'Keal Harry is the prince that was promised. Harry finished five catches for 78 yards and a slick one-handed touchdown grab and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that he is surpassing every expectation I had for him coming into the season. He's already the best receiver on the team and there's nobody I trust more on the roster to go up over the heads of defenders.
Cam Smith had his best game of the season since returning from injury and that's reassuring. Frederick Gammage had a nice touchdown catch that brought the Devils to within three. Kody Kohl wasn't really a factor in the passing, but continues to be a vital asset because of his run blocking abilities.
Offensive Line: A
The offensive line has to be one of the most pleasantly surprising aspects of this team. They had a stellar performance against Texas Tech and followed it up with another gem. ASU ran the ball for over 200 yards as a team and the line only gave up one sack on the road. There were a lot of question marks about this group coming into the season and so far, they've really impressed me.
Defensive Line: C+
For the most part, the line held up fine. But there was a play that brought this grade down significantly. It was early in the game and the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners had the ball on fourth-and-one. The Roadrunners went for the QB-sneak to get the first down and their quarterback, Dalton Sturm, went virtually untouched up the middle for a gain of ten.
That drive would end with UTSA's first touchdown of the game. It's something that ASU can't allow if they want to be competitive in conference play. That play, coupled with the fact that Sturm was constantly shrugging should-have-been sacks off were what brought this grade down.
DJ Calhoun continues to most consistent player in this group and Christian Sam still has yet to return. Marcus Ball looked decent, seems to always be around the action and finished with a team-high seven tackles (one for loss). Hopefully Sam comes back and is 100-percent soon because his presence is missed.
No interceptions and three touchdowns against the Roadrunners is not the follow-up performance we wanted to see after last week's game. Dalton Sturm, as good as he may be for UTSA, is not Patrick Mahomes and should not have been as efficient as he was against the Arizona State secondary. The tackling is troubling and I'm not looking forward to the performances by opponent quarterbacks in the near future.
Special Teams: A-
Tim White is crucial to this group. If he's in, I feel comfortable about our ability to return, or at least fair catch, punts. Both of the lost fumbles came from guys trying to fill in for White until ASU was desperate enough to put White in basically fair catch the ball comfortably. Even when he wasn't fully healthy, White still had a 16-yard punt return, which was the best return of the day for the Devils.
Zane Gonzales is going to be desperately missed when this season is over. He's making a strong, early case for the Lou Groza Award and nailed two 54-yard field goals to keep Arizona State from falling into an insurmountable deficit. Gonzales has shown NFL-level power and rarely allows teams to field any kick returns. It's been a while since ASU has had a kicker as steady as Gonzales.