Devils in the details

Ex-ASU player Kyle Caldwell breaks downs ASU's 35-14 win over Utah

I had been saying all week that this was the game the Sun Devils were going to have to prove to their fan base and followers that they were for real. That the Illinois loss was a fluke game and the ball just didn't bounce their way that night. ASU needed to show they could go on the road, in a hostile environment and beat the teams they are supposed to beat. Saturday night the Devils proved all of that in a hard fought victory over the Utah Utes.

The game seemed like it could go either way going into halftime. Both teams were struggling to sustain drives and the momentum was there for the taking. Luckily, it was the Sun Devils Defense that said they were going to claim it as theirs and never give it back!

Was this a corner being turned?

A moment when Arizona State, with so much to prove, came out of the dark and into the light?

Have the Sun Devils finally figured out with their abundance of talent how to play a solid game from start to finish and to play that way extremely aggressive without causing penalties?

It seems so and throughout the whole team a wave of confidence radiates. My hats are off to the coaches and players for coming a long way this season, reflecting on the last couple of years. Football is exciting right now at Arizona State and we can feel the momentum rolling right. The rest of the season is going to be so exciting especially this upcoming week. It feels so proud to be a Sun Devil!

Talking about the offense!

A very solid day again for the Offense putting up 399 total yards. Brock Osweiler and the receivers were on the same page and hooked up all over the place. Great efforts all over the offense led to zero turnovers and 35 points on the scoreboard.

The thing to note for this game and the last few contests is the amount of rushing yards the Devils are gaining. Only 74 yards on 38 attempts (1.9 yards per rush) yesterday. Utah did do a great job with their big box players stuffing wholes and playing laterally defending our zone blocking. The Utes used run blitzes, bringing backers and slanting defensive ends, that were timed well to shut down the edge of the O-Line which led to a lot of no gain running plays.

This would be about the only low we would see from ASU over the whole game against Utah so if that is all we have to complain about against a team that defends the run well then the Sun Devils are in good shape!

Grading the film

Quarterback Grade: A

Osweiler was on fire much like the games against Missouri and USC. His feet in the pocket were on point stepping up when he needed to and keeping his eyes always scanning. It seemed like he did a much better job checking down receivers than against ASU's last opponent, Oregon State. Some of the balls he threw were so on point and with so much confidence it was really a beautiful thing to watch. Great job B.O.! Have a great week of practice and keep the team on path! They feed off of your energy... take it all to Autzen.

Offensive Line Grade: B

I know this group has been beat up, shuffled and challenged and yet they still prevail each week.

With doubts of Garth Gerhart's status and who would be able to fill in for injured Evan Finkenberg the Sun Devil O-Line strapped it up and played their bellies off! Dan Knapp moved over to left tackle and did a good job keeping pace with defensive ends that wanted to speed rush every down.

Tyler Sulka getting his first start at right tackle also had a solid night. Sulka was strong in the run game and often times impressed me with his footwork rolling off defenders and picking up the outside blitz like this was not his first start. Good job Tyler and way to step in there and play with confidence.

Andrew Sampson has improved each game so far this season and I thought Saturday was his best performance of the season. Mike Marcisz, the big 6-5 300 pound senior, needs to find a way to get it going in the run game. To critique him it seemed like the pads were way too high and the hands just not strong enough. The defensive tackles of Utah were really able to make their impact in the rush defense shedding some of his blocks and often times moving him into the backfield. Big tall guy he just needs to play at that level when his hand is in the ground, bend the knees and get the hands locked on in good position and DONT LET GO!

The surprise of the day was the showing of Mr. Gerhart. He had been labeled injured for the game but tapped it up and went out to dominate. It was not his most impressive performance given his status but Gerhart got it done inside! The unit gave up two sacks and only gained 74 yards rushing but they helped the Sun Devils win and win solidly... that's all that matters! I foresee a great upcoming week for this unit and I look for the matchup against the Oregon defense.

Running Backs Grade: B+

Not the best night statistically for this group yet some good improvement in the pass blocking especially from Cameron Marshall. I saw Marshall get his pads low and his hands inside stoning a couple of the Utah blitzes. This was an issue I wrote about in the past and it was very nice to see Marshall improve here. This next week against the Ducks will be key when talking about the rushing game. Go get after it! Make it a great week!

Wide Receivers Grade: A+

Just handed out the first A+ of the season. This group as a whole played fantastic!

Catches from nine different Sun Devils led to some awesome production. The run blocking was terrific all day long. Gerell Robinson starting holding on when the catches were difficult and Mike Willie showed us why he needs to see targets. Willie is something special especially after the catch and the offense needs to keep finding ways to get him the ball.

Trevor Kohl started the game with a pair of catches and did a great job blocking. I saw him completely blow up some Utah defenders down by the goal line. Great performance from this position group. They have all the talent in the world to show us this effort every single down!

The Sun Devil offense was able to find its rhythm with the help of the defense this week. They capitalized on turnovers and put points on the board when it mattered. Our kicker made the chip shot field goals that he should always make and the final performance by the offense had the Devils up by 21 in the end. Great effort all around and great momentum the last couple weeks heading up north on the road again.

It will be such a fun time to watch ASU test what I would call "average" defense of Oregon (They gave up nearly 500 yards to Cal this last week?). Have a great week Offense.... see you on GameDay!


What a day! I mean really... what an awesome game from the Sun Devil Defense. A group that has been beaten up at every single position and found ways to wreak havoc against every team they have played.

My father (Ex-ASU player Bryan Caldwell) wrote me Sunday morning saying how proud he was to watch this group and how it reminded him of the Sun Devil defenses he was a part of.

The tough nose, bend/don't break mentality. Guys putting their hats on balls and playing opportunistic all over the place. This mentality the last couple years has been now instilled in this team and it really is an awesome thing to watch!

Utah with its inexperienced QB and very large offense line were beaten down and exposed. Three sacks, three interceptions and three fumbles caused. That is true defensive grit and every time Utah looked like they might do something the Devils were there to stop them in their tracks and close the door! Congrats defense on another great performance!

Defensive Line Grade: A

They allowed 149 yards on the ground but guess what... that was the only low point!

This group is playing so much better and with so much more pride each week it's now becoming something special. We all had some doubts with several different issues coming into the season but all those questions have been answered and I am loving cheering on this defensive line!

Jamaar Jarrett was dominant again. His edge rush has starting evolving into a very beautiful power rush that has offensive tackles trying to anchor down from the point of contact. It is his get off that is really setting it up nicely.

Davon Coleman and Greg Smith both did a nice job rotating throughout the game. They both seemed fresh all night and did well taking on the large tackles of Utah being both of them would be considered undersized.

Bo Moos was more active this week with his hands and did well taking on the double teams. His feet were always going and when he ended up on the ground he used great effort to get up and keep in pursuit.

Most improved this week up front was Will Sutton. Sutton had a get off all game long that I had not seen from him so far this season. He was in the backfield constantly and also downfield with great pursuit. Sutton's hands were very fast and with lots of violence.

You can tell the defense up front really feeds off him and his energy. Hopefully he bottles it up and unleashes it out on the Ducks this week!

Defensive line is going to be the key of the game against Oregon. Playing extremely disciplined against the read zone and reading the pressure keys will dictate the performance and a lot of the outcome with the play of the boys in the trenches.

Line Backers Grade: B+

A good day from this group. Collin Parker was solid as he has been the whole season and recorded a sack this week. Shelly Lyons was a ball hawk causing and recovering a fumble. Lyons has really done a great job this season and it's nice to watch his effort on each down.

Oliver Aaron also played well but just needs to find a way to get his feet motored down and shoulders square to the line of scrimmage when defending the run. A couple times Aaron over ran the pursuit but with more reps and game time he will keep getting better.

Vontaze Burfict in my opinion played one of his least productive games which is the only reason this group didn't grade out as an A this week. On almost all of his blitzes he just stopped on contact and looked like he almost would give up. No use out of his hands trying to break down the offensive lineman blocking him and no fineness moves at all to try and set any of it up. His pursuit to the ball was about a D+ grade.

Burfict can impact every single play with just being out there yet that's not what playing selfless defense is all about. You need to run to the ball every single play and take good angles doing so. Good things happen around the ball.. but you have to get there. What if one of the safeties come up and knock the ball out but because you didn't decide run to the football the other team recovers and ends up scoring.... those points decide the game.

It's all about playing every down as hard as you can and the guys who can play this way are the guys that we remember and honor. Just play as hard as you can every down. Get to the football and do it all having fun with the guys around you.

I believe Burfict can be an impact player on every single down. He just needs to exercise the skills he has and do all the small things to get there. A great performance from this group and the Defensive Line will be fun to watch this next week. Go Backers!

Secondary Grade: A

Loving how much confidence this unit is playing with right now. They are on fire and the stats are showing because of it.

Alden Darby did it again and came in for a hurt Osahon Irabor acting like he should have been out there from the get go. Darby is a ball hawk and has great eyes mixed with some good hips that put him in those positions.

Deveron Carr played a better game but still can't find a way to stay away from the P.I. calls. He dropped two balls that he should have caught for INTs but I can't catch either so I give him that.

Clint Floyd was a beast again coming up so hard on the run and timing everything great with his pass defense skills. If he weighed about 15 more pounds he would be knocking people out every other play! Eddie Elder played another one of his solid games and this whole group is improving from seasons start!

They are answering our questions and doing it with an exclamation point! Great job!

The Defense is playing with so much passion and it will be up to them to slow down the speed and creativity of the Oregon Ducks this upcoming week. The momentum they have built in their unit over the last couple weeks is special and you can tell they are feeling it! The future is there for the taking... go get it Defense!

Special Teams Grade: A-

Kicking Grade: A-

Alex Garoutte made the easy field goals... Awesome!.... Really though we got it done this week and it was relieving to see. His kickoffs though were very inconsistent. One of his kicks went eight yards deep in the end zone and yet the others were all over the place even out to the 15 yard line! This is an area that needs to be locked in and if you are a kicker with a leg that can put it in the end zone then it needs to get done more often than not or it shows it is something upstairs more than anything. We believe in you Alex! Get er done!

Punting Grade: A

Josh Hubner had 3 punts inside the 20 yard line and averaged 42.3 yards a kick. Great job from Hub now we just need to do a better job getting down there and squeezing the ball. Hubner himself had to come in as a safety and lay a lick on the returner. It's all about effort on punt coverage... always!

Returning Grade: B+

They did explode like they sometimes do but Jamal Miles and Kyle Middlebrooks held on to the ball in colder wetter conditions and put our Offense out on the field. It will be fun to watch these guys have the chance to shut the crowd of Autzen up!

Coverage Grade: C

The one area ASU needs to improve the most on this team. Kickoff and punt coverage can determine a game. If you look at the stats and how average starting position affects the outcome of the game its crazy how much this aspect dictates everything. We need to get guys out there giving maximum effort and doing so with discipline! Great shoulders and ability to stay square to the ball. Avoiding blockers, bursting by guys... it's all effort!

Overall Team Grades:

Offense: A

Defense: A

Special Teams: B+

This was a great day for the Sun Devils and they proved they are for real and that they need to be treated as a contender. The future is in their hands and ASU has a chance this upcoming week to prove all of this again in a big way as they travel north to face the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on ESPN College GameDay.

The Ducks are hot but did a wheel fall off this last week with the major injury of their star? They have the backups to not miss a beat but it will be up to the Sun Devil Defense to come out and prove the Arizona State Sun Devils are the real deal. Here is to a great week... can't wait for Saturday! Go Devils!


Defensive end 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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