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ASU Football: Todd Graham System Cleared For Takeoff

Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils are really operating at full tilt after their 63-6 Opening Day victory over Northern Arizona.

Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

The Arizona St. Sun Devils have to feel pretty good about themselves after Week 1. In many ways you could argue their performance was the most impressive of the weekend.

Sure, it was lowly Northern Arizona, who didn't figure to pose much of a challenge going into the contest. But there's so much to like about the ASU performance.

Last year, the run attack would've consisted of Cameron Marshall pounding the ground with his bruising style of running. Marshall did have two rushing touchdowns, but he only carried the ball nine times for 14 yards. Taking over the workload for Marshall? Everyone else.

Seven Sun Devils ran the football on Thursday night, including two quarterbacks, four running backs, and wide receiver Richard Smith. More importantly, they all managed to run the ball well, with five of the seven runners averaging five yards or more a carry. That's dangerously effective and smart for conserving carries for the whole good of the team.

ASU then turned to the pass, and Taylor Kelly proved why he earned the starting job by showing his command of the offense. He completed nearly 80% of his passes at an incredible 13 yards per pass and made the demolition of a lowly NAU squad all the more routine.

Despite all those gaudy offensive numbers, the most important number here might be four. ASU is fresh off a Dennis Erickson-era stretch where they were constantly one of the most penalized team in football. Not this time. Arizona State was flagged four times for 30 yards on the game, providing us with one of the more spotless performances of the weekend.

SB Nation Snippets

Brad Denny of House of Sparky has his overall thoughts, and says not to get TOO excited about this win.

Yes, the game was awesome. Yes, it was exactly what everyone could have asked for. Yes, fans should feel good about this team right now.

But let's remember that it was "just" NAU. While they have some playoff aspirations in 2012, they are essentially a middling FCS program, and were treated as such by a motivated and fired up Sun Devil team. Arizona State did exactly what they should have done to a team like that.

So while this is a great moment for the team and the fans, fans should wait until the end of September to get a real read on how good this year's squad is and can be. The next four games—Illinois, at Missouri, Utah, at Cal—will provide a stern litmus test.

Video interview of Todd Graham with Dan Rubenstein of SB Nation.