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ASU Football: First look at Sacramento State

The first matchup since 2013

NCAA Football: Sacramento State at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona State Sun Devils are 1-0 after defeating the Kent State Golden Flashes last week and focusing in on week two. They will be facing the Sacramento State Hornets who are also 1-0 after beating the Southern Oregon Raiders 77-19.

The Hornets are led by first-year head coach Troy Taylor. In 2017, under former coach Jody Sears, they went 7-4. However, things quickly went south last season when the Hornets went fell to 2-8 (0-7 in conference play).

Hopeful to turn things back around this season, let’s take a look at the Hornets:

A confident offense

Taylor’s coaching experience is something that the Hornets should take full advantage of. Before becoming Sac State’s head coach Taylor was the offensive coordinator at the University of Utah.

The offensive side of the ball is a place where the team could thrive due to Taylor’s previous experience, along with their starting QB—Kevin Thomson.

Thomson is back for his second season with the Hornets after originally starting his freshman year at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2017. In his previous two seasons, Thomson threw for a combined total 3,208 yards and 25 touchdowns.

The Hornets will look to Thomson to create successful plays and will also rely on receivers Pierre Williams and Johnnie Rucker. Williams and Rucker both averaged 16 yards per catch. Williams had 31 catches last season.

Last season, the Hornets depended heavily on the run game. They had 383 carries on the year compared to 258 pass attempts. In his first two seasons as a Hornet, RB Elijah Dotson rushed for a total 1,629 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Look for the Hornets to try out new things under Taylor and hopefully find success.

Defense: A work in progress

As mentioned last week with Kent State’s defense, the Hornets’ defense will likely show struggles against the Sun Devil offense.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if running back Eno Benjamin to put up big numbers against the Hornet defense this week. Last week, Benjamin had 22 carries for 102 yards. The team ran for a total of 171 yards against the Golden Flashes.

The Hornets were ranked 100th in the FCS last season and allowed 35.4 points per game. They allowed 489 yards per game last season and were ranked 115th in the FCS in total defense.

This matchup will be a good second opponent for true-freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels to play before heading to Lansing, Michigan to face the Michigan State Spartans.

Injuries were a big headline that struck the Hornets last season and could’ve been one of the reasons that they weren’t very successful.

Defensive back George Obinna is back on the field and can make an impact for the Hornets. After only playing two games last season due to an injury. In the 11 games he played in 2017-18 season, Obinna had 15 tackles.

Getting Obinna back on the field is huge for the Hornets, and is a starting point as they look to get back on track on the defensive end of the ball this season. They have the ninth toughest schedule in the FCS this year.