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ASU Football opener recap: Sun Devils handle business against Weber State

On a hot, steamy night in Tempe, Coach Todd Graham had his Sun Devils hungry and eager to hit someone in a different color jersey. The #19 team in the nation didn't disappoint the home town faithful, handling their business (and then some) against an over-matched Weber State football team.

Taylor Kelly #10 looks down field to De'Marieya Nelson #12
Taylor Kelly #10 looks down field to De'Marieya Nelson #12
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

On a night where better FBS teams have fallen flat on their face, the Sun Devils came out of Tillman Tunnel looking like a well-oiled machine, dominating a bewildered Wildcat football team from start to finish. While everyone and their mom predicted Weber State getting torn down by Sparky & Company, it was good to see the Devils come out energetic and ready to play after last year's Holiday Bowl left a rancid taste in our mouths. For those who didn't watch the game (DIRECTV/because it was Weber State) or who left for drinks on Mill at the half, here's what I saw in our 31 point victory.

  • I had my doubts, but after game one, I am ready to hop aboard the Jaelen Strong Biletnikoff bandwagon. With six more grabs than the next ASU receiver, he was TK10's favorite target all night long. The second best play of the night came from Strong going over the top of a Wildcat corner, taking the ball away like candy from a baby. Not only did he catch everything thrown in his direction, but he racked up the YAC on underneath screens and drags. With such an athletic frame and willingness to hit, he'll be a terror (whether its on a screen or back shoulder fade) all year long.
  • The best play of the night came from DJ Foster, rumblin' stumblin' and bumblin' off three would-be Weber State tacklers on his way to a 57 yard touchdown scamper about five minutes into the 3rd. DJ seems to have that 5th gear that Marion lacked in maroon and gold. Factor in defenses trying to protect themselves from the wrath of Jaelen, DJ could be looking at a pretty fine season.

  • Everyone's favorite Jake Plummer mini-me looked more like a college football Jekyll and Hyde last night. When Taylor looked good, he looked really good (fitting balls in tight windows to Jaelen, running out his fakes, etc.) And to be honest, 80% of the time he looked like he had made significant strides since last season. But the other 20%... let's just say there were a couple throws that were Tebow-esquee. One play-action play sticks out where TK10 faked the wrong way (or being unbiased DJ faked the wrong way) and threw a lame duck, off target near the ASU sideline. For the lack of a better word, there were a couple plays last night that looked, well lazy. Against Weber State, this is all a mute point, but this stuff snowballs, especially when it looks so passive (ex. playing King Kingsbury's Red Raiders in the Holiday Bowl). We will not beat UCLA with plays like that.
  • On another note, do these Taylor Kelly pooch punts surprise anyone anymore? After we had one blocked against Stanford, you'd think we'd stop, but nope. Our first punt of the season was done by our starting quarterback. College football everyone.
  • CTG wanted better special teams play and so far, he's got it. Zane Gonzalez banged home his one FG and all PATs, Alex Garoutte did a solid job on kickoffs, and Matt Haack averaged 40 yard a punt, all in addition to TK10's contribution. Not too shabby.
  • I was stuck in the third deck student section (damn freshman and their love for all things college), but I think the triumphant "Tee Guy" chant has returned to the student section. For all the chants in sports that need to be buried six feet under, this one needs to live forever. Tee Guy's hustle must always be recognized; the man leaves it all on the field.
  • Todd Graham praised DJ Calhoun in the post-game interviews, who played extremely well in a defense that surprised many including myself. I know it's early in the season, they are young and played against a sub-par FCS team, but the defense still didn't allow any points until half way through the third as second team-ers were being shuffled through. Color me impressed after game one.
  • Considering Deantre Lewis didn't have a single carry, I think it's safe to say Kalen Ballage is the back to play alongside DJ. Demario Richards will steal snaps from both of them, but Kalen looked solid in his first NCAA game, racking up his first touchdown. Cherish it kid.
  • Speaking of firsts, Jefferson, Bercovici, and Chambers all joined Ballage in getting their first TD's of their careers. We'll be seeing more from Ballage and Chambers before the season is done.
  • On the subject of Bercovici, Mike looked solid in his garbage time minutes. Unfortunately, as the back-up quarterback manta goes "the less we see from him, the better", but it was nice to get a preview of what we may have under center next year. Hopefully, he can grab some more mop up minutes going forward.
  • For my degenerate gamblers out there, ASU let off the throttle just enough that they didn't cover the point spread. My condolences.
  • I was going to write something on how Weber State played, but then I thought you guys probably wouldn't read it, so here's another fun fact: "After flares used to create a giant flaming "W" on the mountainside above campus ignited a 25-acre wildfire in 1957, Weber switched to electric lights." I like how this one makes a "25-acre wildfire" sound casual.
  • Also PAC-12 Network caught this gem of the student section last night... How she managed to sneak a full sized bottle of whiskey into Sun Devil Stadium I will never know.

Have a good long weekend everybody! Come back next week to follow our coverage when the 1-0 Sun Devils travel to New Mexico to take on the Lobos.