Devils in the details

Throughout the 2011 season former ASU defensive end Kyle Caldwell will provide his commentary regarding the Sun Devils' most recent game. Caldwell was generally pleased with the Sun Devils' performance in the 48-14 win over UC Davis and provided generally favorable grades for the maroon and gold in their season opener.

Finally! The start to a season we have all been waiting for in recent years. Lots of promising efforts all over the field and a look into what is to come in this new era of Sun Devil Football.

Let's start with the Offense:

Offensive Line grade: B+

Finally, some aggressive behavior and athleticism I have not seen in a long time. The first couple of series was truly great blocking both pass and run. ASU's double teams and ability to get to the second level was very impressive. It did look at times though the linemen were coming off blocks too soon in both the Sun Devils' inside and outside run game. There were way too many TFL's/No Gains against a defensive line ASU was at times opposing so much on. This group has the chance to be very special this year, but we all know injuries will be the key here.

Running Backs grade: A

Impressive! Lots and lots of speed and a couple different types of players in this group. It is amazing how Kyle Middlebrooks changes so much a defense has to focus on. This group needs to catch the ball out of the backfield a bit better, because we all know a turnover here can change the game.

Wide Receivers grade: B

Very good looking group and is going to be one of the strengths of our team this year. The one thing I saw that was upsetting was the blocking downfield. If ASU is going to be successful with their screen game and outside run schemes it will definitely going to need some improvement here. There were a couple dropped balls that ended drives but otherwise a very decent outing.

OK, it's D-Side time!

D-Line grade: B+

Very productive night here! It was nice to see the team's rotation it uses off the edge. I really enjoyed watching some of the burst the defensive ends had. Their size and ability to use the finesse moves are going to be driving offensive tackles and quarterbacks crazy.

The defensive tackles last night in my opinion need much more push. I know they are not all that big there at all but it doesn't take more than an attitude and a fire under your skin to knock someone back every down if you wish! I loved the pursuit after the ball was thrown. Every pass the line was retracing and attempting to get downfield. I would say some of the technique stand points the Devils need to improve on are the counter moves on pass rush. I saw the defensive ends over running the pocket far too many times. A quick spin side or a nice arm bar to thrust back underneath will put you right in the lap of the QB if you coach will give you this go ever now and then with the rule being you are deeper than the QB.

My last tidbit here is that this group needs to get its hands up and stay a lot lower! There could have been 10 batted balls if the defensive line simply got those hands up quick on some of the releases. Good effort and looking towards the rest of the season with this group. Junior is going to have a 10+ sack year if he is healthy and Sutton is going to be a force in the middle.

Linebackers grade: A

What can you say about this group that is not upside… fast/mean/athletic/deep. I loved ASU's in your face from the beginning mentality when it came to the Blitz schemes. It was like a loaded gun coming from somewhere on every other play. Great edge rushing and inside pressure here is going to allow some impressive end of the season stats from this squad. I think this group is going to be the emotional and physical leaders of the team this year. EXCITED for the highlights to come!

Secondary grade: B+

-I love watching these kids play. They are a fun group. Our safeties bring it and the timing was great last night. My one concern is that they need to wrap up when they tackle!!! It is one thing to come up a splat somebody with your head low and your shoulders are your hit spot, but you always need to bring those arms or you are going keep putting us on other peoples highlight videos! Let's get some better pursuit when the ball is away and we will keep the big plays down.

Special teams grade: A+

I have never been so excited to watch a return game as I am this year. The Sun Devils have the opportunity to score a TD every time the ball is kicked to them. I love this amount of talent here. I knew it had had a leg in our punter but everything I had heard about our place kicker was proven wrong last night. Coming up and making tackles and kicking bombs into the end zone.. so Impressive! I think with this my highlight of the night among surprises.

Great night in Sun Devil Nation and I can't wait for next week's Black OUTTTTT!! Fear the Fork! –KC50

Defensive and Kyle Caldwell played for the Sun Devils from 2003-2006 and finished with Sun Devil career with 90 tackles and 10.5 sacks. He earned Pac-10 All-Freshman honors in 2003 and Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recognition in 2006. A graduate of Scottsdale Saguaro High School, Caldwell was a member of the Sabercats' coaching staff who won the 2010 Class 4A Division I state championship.

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