The first game under new Head Coach Herm Edwards for the Arizona State Sun Devils took place on Saturday night. It was a resounding victory for the Sun Devils, but based on the opponent do we really have a good feel for this Arizona State team?
The Sun Devils looked very good on Saturday night in their 49-7 win over the University of Texas-San Antonio.
In just three plays, N’Keal Harry took a pass from Manny Wilkins and sprinted 58 yards to the end zone. It put Arizona State up 7-0 over UTSA.
Defense wins championship right? Well, the defense for the Sun Devils got involved very early. Defensive lineman, Shannon Forman, intercepted a Cordale Grundy pass and took it 25 yards to the house.
In less than two minutes of game time, the Sun Devils were up 14-0.
From that point on it was total domination by the Sun Devils. The contest was never really in doubt since UTSA never put up any fight. To put this game in context, UTSA only managed two yards on offense.
The Sun Devils played about as flawless of a game that I have seen them play in a long time.
Arizona State put 49 points on the board, had 503 total yards of offense, nine sacks, and were 4-4 in the Red Zone. The Sun Devils had more yards rushing (266) than passing yards (237).
Stepping back and looking at the bigger picture you can ask the question: “What do we really have with this team?”
Any win is a good win, but before we start thinking that this could be a special Sun Devil team we have to consider who they played in week one.
Head Coach Herm Edwards was critical of his team’s play on Saturday night.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement, but I liked our grit. We were sloppy though.” Edwards said.
Most out of conference games for a Power 5 program are against inferior opponents and that is exactly what UTSA was. Like I said earlier, UTSA only ran for two yards of offense. UTSA couldn’t protect the quarterback to save their lives, could not put any pressure on Manny Wilkins, and turned the ball over three times.
Many people will say that was because of the Sun Devils. Those people would be correct. Bottom line is that the Devils did exactly what they were supposed to do against this type of opponent.
Next week the Sun Devils have the big boys of Michigan State coming into town. Sparty is no UTSA type of team. The Spartans are the 11th ranked team in the country right now. Michigan State had a tighter game than expected with Utah State, but won the game in the end.
Arizona State will be looking to make a statement against a highly ranked opponent at home.
“The team coming in here next week, put your big-boy pads on. They are going to try and run the football. We got a little confidence, now the key will be how do we handle success.” Herm Edwards mentioned.
Can the Sun Devils pull of the upset?
Yes, they can.
Let’s keep things in perspective though.
Things on the field won’t come as easy as they did against UTSA. N’Keal Harry will be better defended, the defense of the Spartans will put much better pressure on Manny Wilkins, and the Sun Devil defense will be under greater pressure by a better team.
It’s going to take a total team effort against Michigan State to come out victorious for the Sun Devils.
However, one of the things that the Sun Devils have to watch is the amount of penalties that they get called for. On Saturday night against UTSA the Sun Devils accrued 11 penalties for 89 yards.
One of those penalties was a targeting penalty that caused Sun Devil safety, Jalen Harvey, to be ejected from the game. Harvey was done with 9:25 left in the first half. It didn’t really hurt the Sun Devils because of the ineptness of their opponent.
However, just in the first half alone Arizona State was penalized eight times for 65 yards. Three of the 11 penalties were of the personal foul variety. It accounted for 45 yards of the total penalty yards. By the end of the game the grand total of penalty yards stood at 95.
This type of play out of the team won’t be acceptable against a good team like Michigan State. In fact, it will prove deadly. The Spartans won’t let these types of free gifts go unpunished.
Arizona State has to clean this part of their up this week otherwise the chances for a win go down the toilet.
I am sure Coach Edwards and the rest of the coaching will address this issue during practice and in team meetings.
By this time next week we will have much better idea of what we have with the Arizona State Sun Devils.