By: Charles Wulf
It was a solid start for the Arizona State Sun Devils. Yes, Weber State isn’t the most daunting competition, but ASU played as expected and dominated from start to finish.
The Devils started slow but entered halftime with a 31-0 lead. After the first two series of the third quarter the starters were taken out and the second and third team players got some much needed action.
We knew coming into this game that the offense was fast and powerful. It was the young, inexperienced defense that had several questions to answer. The Devils had six players on the defensive side of the ball that were making their first collegiate start.
“A lot of people had question marks about how we were going to come out defensively, Graham said after the game, “I would tell you just from a defensive standpoint, I felt like we had a good night.”
The first team defense held Weber State to only 119 total yards in the first half and stopped the Wildcats on fourth down twice, including once on the ASU one yard line. Graham praised his players for their ability to soak up the playbook and make the correct calls before the snap.
“I was very impressed with the amount of scheme they were able to handle and every one of them Salamo [Fiso] was calling,” Graham said, “I mean he’s checking it and rolling it, and that’s pretty good when you got that many new guys.”
Fiso, one of the few returning starters, led the Devils defense with seven total tackles including a sack. Graham said after the game that he could have just run the base defense but he wanted to get his young players ready to play. One of those young players is D.J. Calhoun, who lined up at WILL linebacker for the Devils. Graham was very please with the freshman linebacker’s play.
“He made some mistakes but man, let me tell you something, he is tough.” Graham said in his post game press conference, “He’s going to be a great player. He wants to learn.”
Aside from a couple miscues, it was an impressive performance from the first team defense and it’s something they can build on for the rest of the season.
Offensively, Deputy Head Coach Mike Norvell’s strategy was clear from the start: get the ball to D.J. Foster and Jaelen Strong.
However, the Devils got off to a slow start with their first two drive resulting in a punt and a field goal respectively. The offense seemed to stall at times in the first quarter but with four and a half minutes remaining in the first, Kelly found Gary Chambers for the first touchdown of the season. Once Kelly and co. found their rhythm they looked a lot better.
The Devils probably threw the ball more than expected and Kelly found Strong early and often. Strong finished with 10 receptions for 146 yards in only the first half. No one for Weber State could cover Strong and I’m pretty sure I heard the entire Weber State secondary let out a sigh of relief when they realized Strong wasn’t playing in the second half.
Strong wasn’t the only Sun Devil to shine on offense. In his first game as the feature back, D.J. Foster ran wild on the Weber State defense. Foster added 173 total yards and three touchdowns to ASU’s offensive output.
At the end of the night the Arizona State offense had totaled 570 yards with 267 yards on the ground and 303 yards through the air.
Overall, there were a lot of positives to take away from this game but the Devils will need to play much better if they want to beat teams like UCLA and Stanford.