So far, so good.
The Sun Devils opened the 2011 season with a 48-14 romp of visiting UC Davis, flashing a little bit of every one of their weapons en route to the easy win.
The game was a blowout from the get-go. ASU’s first play from scrimmage, a screen pass to Cameron Marshall, went for 47 yards. Two plays later, Marshall punched it in to make it 7-0, and the Sun Devils never looked back.
Granted, UC Davis was much, much worse than even I anticipated them to be. I thought ASU would win comfortably, but I didn’t think they would come close to covering the ridiculous 37-point spread set by Vegas. They nearly did in a game that was, for the most part, well played by the Sun Devils. Even the few mistakes ASU did make — a second quarter fumble and a third quarter interception — didn’t come back to bite them.
Despite the blowout win, critics will say that this game doesn’t mean much, and that we can’t really judge this Sun Devil team from a match-up against a cream-puff Great West opponent.
However, I beg to differ.
ASU came out of the gates quickly and set the tone from the opening whistle against the Aggies. Never once did they play down to the level of their opponent, which I think is a true testament to how focused and determined the Sun Devils are to have a monster year. It’s easy to overlook a team like UC Davis, but ASU was fully prepared for last night’s game.
There were several aspects of the ASU attack in particular have me excited for next week, when the Sun Devils play the Missouri Tigers.
First, the defense was flying to the football. Minus two fourth quarter scores (when the game was long out of reach and many reserves were in), the Sun Devils didn’t yield any big plays and looked solid for nearly all night long.
All ASU fans have to be excited about the raw speed on display last night, too. Maybe the Aggies were just making the Sun Devils look really, really fast, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think this football team is actually really, really fast; they have a number of players that are blessed with what I like to call Deion-speed (notably Marshall and wide receiver/returner Jamal Miles).
ASU’s special teams, which had been the source of much frustration for fans last season, had several highlights as well. Miles took the second half kick-off to the house to make it a 31-0 Sun Devil advantage, and the Aggies should thrilled that Miles only had one TD return on the night. He had several good runbacks where one or two more blocks would have sprung another six.
Redshirt freshman Alex Garoutte also showed off the revamped kicking game, as he was two for two on field goals — including a 49-yard field goal as time wound down in the first half — and, much to the delight of Sun Devil fans, had no problem converting extra points.
There’s really only one word to describe the demeanor of ASU last night: Swagger. It’s something that’s been missing from this program during the last few years, but it was readily apparent at Frank Kush Field against the Aggies. Guys were swarming to the football. Wide receivers were holding their downfield blocks. Brock Osweiler looked sharp throwing the football. And those uniforms — oh, man, those digs looked good.
Speaking of uniforms, I can’t wait to see the black ones in action next Friday. And I also can’t wait to see whether their swagger will carry over to a new week — and a new, legitimate opponent.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org