Well wasn’t that a fun game, at least for the New Mexico State fans. For the Sun Devils, that must’ve been difficult to watch but regardless, ASU picked up the W against the Aggies, 37-31.
Here are some takeaways:
Manny Wilkins performed great
Though the Devils were in for more of a fight than they and ASU fans were anticipating, at least redshirt junior Manny Wilkins looked good. Wilkins threw for 300 yards with only 5 incompletions (22-27) and threw two touchdowns as well. Those two TDs came in the first quarter when the offense started off hot but the team got derailed soon after, scoring no point the rest of the half. Wilkins kept the team on point though and led them to 23 more points in the second half. All in all, a good showing by the veteran.
Kalen Ballage is a beast
Senior Kalen Ballage had a solid afternoon as well, rushing for 79 yards and for 2 touchdowns. Though he didn’t have any huge runs (his longest being for 20 yards) Ballage kept grinding and grinding throughout the day and with that nose for the endzone put it in the endzone twice. This performance was also a positive due to the lack of a running game that the rest of the team was showing (22 rushes for no yards).
It’s not just the N’Keal Harry show at receiver
Sophomore N’Keal Harry didn’t lead the team in catches (6), yards (69) or touchdowns (0) this game. but rather Oklahoma transfer sophomore John Humphrey did. Humphrey put up 123 yards off seven catches and a TD in his first game with the Devils and he very much put the nation on notice if it thinks no one on the Sun Devils team is worth worrying about besides Harry. Another target that shined was junior Jalen Harvey. Harvey earned two catches but got 68 yards and a TD as well. With the talent this team has in the receiver position, they’ll be causing a lot of issues this season.
The defense can’t stop a Sun Belt Conference team
Well this was it, the big headline for the entire offseason, can the Sun Devils stop opposing offenses? So far, the answer is no. Now, this is the first game and the team can improve but by just taking this game, the defense once again got chopped up by the quarterback (The Aggies threw for 398 yards and three touchdowns). They couldn’t really stop the running game (30 carries for 151 yards and two TDs). If it wasn’t for the two picks, one of which taken by for a touchdown, the Aggies could’ve pulled off the upset and that wouldn’t be good for anyone in the program. Another positive in the sea of negatively; the defense was able to get after the Aggies quarterback Senior Tyler Rogers, sacking him six times. The Sun Devils have to figure out their defensive woes soon, as their schedule keeps getting harder and harder the longer it goes.
A new statue in the stadium
So unless you live under a rock or just deleted your social media accounts, you know about the bronze Pat Tillman statue right in front of the new Tillman tunnel on the north side of the field. This statue was unveiled yesterday to friends, family of Tillman and other people who have ties with the school and was created to keep the legacy that Tillman left behind. The team wants to create a new tradition for each player after they get out of Tillman’s tunnel to smack the statue and rush onto the field. Thursday night was the first time the Sun Devils did so. They’re hoping this could rise to become one of the great traditions in college football.