The game wasn’t perfect. In fact, it was a typical Week 1 game. Sloppy and unorganized but exciting and invigorating as well. Arizona State played its first game in front of the Sun Devil faithful since the 2019 Territorial Cup. While the game wasn’t perfect, the atmosphere signified a return to near normalcy, which brings us to the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good - The fans, the defense and the running game
Outside of the game, ASU fans made their presence felt. All throughout Tempe, Maroon and Gold clad diehards made the pilgrimage back to Sun Devil stadium for the first time in 18 months. The fans brought the energy, jingled their keys, stomped the bus, and watched a Sun Devil victory. A good return to the stands to say the least.
The first look of the Sun Devil defense was a good one. Darion Butler had two interceptions, leading a veteran group that looked the part of a unit that’s ready to make noise once conference play starts. The front seven held the Thunderbirds to 78 total rushing yards without Jermayne Lole, and demonstrated why they’re was so much talk about the ferociousness and hunger of this unit headed into 2020.
Chip Trayanum, Rachaad White and Daniyel Ngata all found the end zone picking up right where they left off last season. The trio averaged 5.7 yards per rush, and caused havoc for a Thunderbird defense that couldn’t handle the shiftiness of White and the power of Trayanum and Ngata. Look out, Pac-12.
The Bad - Kicking
Herm Edwards wasn’t shy about his concerns about the Sun Devils kicking situation this season, and those concerns were validated 24 seconds into the season after Logan Tyler’s extra point attempt was blocked (it was going to miss if it wasn’t blocked anyway). Football is a three-pronged game, just because ASU has a treasure chest full of offensive and defensive talent, having weakness in the kicking and special teams game is a dangerous game to play. In case you’re interested in what that looks like, Google the 2018 Chicago Bears, 1990 Buffalo Bills, or the 2018 Territorial Cup.
The Ugly - Penalties
Eleven penalties in the first half?! Emotion and excitement, maybe. Sloppy execution, absolutely. Luckily the Thunderbirds couldn’t keep up, but if the Sun Devils have aspirations of playing for a Pac-12 championship or competing in Pasadena, the focus and attention to detail has to be near perfect. Week 1 is meant to be a tune up week, but if ASU is still having issues with flags once conference play hits, it won’t have the luxury of playing a team that’s a division below them.