Devils in the Details

Devils Digest's columnist and former Arizona State defensive lineman Kyle Caldwell breaks down Arizona State's 54-13 win over Colorado, discussing the performance of each of the Sun Devils' position groups as well as grading each unit.

Some games you are supposed to win and others you are not. Saturday's night matchup with Arizona State playing host to Colorado was nothing more than an example of that.

The Sun Devils coming into this game against CU had just been through one of the hardest stretches any team will face in a season and escaped with an even record through those games. So needless to say, ASU was in need of a big win to get back to on track and continue to uphill climb Coach Graham and staff have worked so hard to accomplish.

The 54-13 victory over the Buffalos was one of the more dominate showcases the Sun Devils have had in recent years. By the end of the first quarter it looked as if the game was very much over with the score reading 25-0 in favor of the Sun Devils. The same trend continued into half time and sending the Devils first team to the bench with a score of 47-6. A nearly perfect display of play book and effort.

The second half was a great opportunity for many second and third team players to get some solid game experience under their belt in this 2013 season and prove what they can do against a Pac-12 opponent.

Lots of great effort all over the field and many things this staff I am sure left feeling very proud of.

Talking about the offense

Key Stats

Positive:

29 First Downs

532 Total Yards - 276 Rushing Yards

0 Turnovers

Negative

7 TFLs - 1 Sack Given Up

Grades

Quarterback

Grade: B+

Taylor Kelly started the game on fire linking up fast and early with his favorite target. Kelly was great on the ground and through the air as he collected 36 yards rushing and a nice touchdown on his sprint to the pylon. Overall the Sun Devils ended the night 11 of 22 through their air for 256 yards and two scores. Mike Bercovici looked very in command of the second group and showed why he is the true number two QB in this group. His zone read runs were impressive as he showed good decision making and a lot of energy in doing so. Solid night for the QBs other than Michael Eubank coming in and fumbling the pigskin.

Running Backs

Grade: A

Marion Grice and his scoring was continued to showcase as he found the end zone twice on the ground. His 13 carries netted him 88 yards as well as two receptions for 46 yards through the air. Deantre Lewis, R.J. Robinson and D.J. Foster all received carries as the game progressed with Robinson adding another touchdown for the Devils. It was great to see some of the change up with Foster being motioned into the back field creating a block set paired with another running back. These types of sets really keep the defense humble and on their toes. I'd love to see some more of these sets going forward!

Wide Receivers

Grade: B+

Jaelen Strong can't be stopped at the moment as he continued on his quest for greatness this season racking up another 100 yard game. His ability to escape the defense over the top and through the middle was shown off on his 69 yard scamper. Just another highlight to add to an already eye popping season. Cameron Smith had a beautiful 47 yard reception near the goal line and it is really great to see him out there stretching the defense. His speed is vicious and he is going to bring a lot of vertical game to the Sun Devils that has been somewhat missing for the last long while. A quiet night overall because of the box score, yet a very solid performance from this group.

Tight Ends/H-Back/Fullback

Grade: A

Solid blocking up front and the surprise visit for Davon Coleman to the end zone catching a one yard arrow route out of his full back position. Great to see the staff rewarding Coleman for his hard work.

Chris Coyle was MIA in the receiving department yet Darwin Rogers filled in with his lone catch of 12 yards. A very decent night for this group, again given the circumstances.

Offensive Line

Grade: B+

This grade would have been an A if they kept it all perfect and didn't give up the sack.

A very good night up front and a big reason why the Sun Devils were able to rush for 276 yards. The CU defensive box was really no match for the ASU bigs and it was clear the offense would be able to get going early behind the play of the offensive line. Always refreshing to see and really gives you a great idea of just how hard the schedule really has been for the Sun Devils over the last 5 games.

Summary

A fun night as ASU fans were able to witness the offense just dominate the first half as you would always hope they would against a lesser opponent. Leaving the game with no injuries, a balanced attack and only three penalties, there really is nothing but positive to go around here. Looking forward to seeing how this last week's success can carry over into the Washington game.

Talking about the Defense

Key Stats

Positive:

99 Yards Rushing Allowed

3 INTs, 2 Caused Fumbles - 1 Recovered

3 Sacks

Negative:

None

Grades

Defensive Line

Grade: B+

A very fun night with lots of players getting their hand in the ground and all kinds of disruption. Will Sutton had one of his most active halves of football so far this season getting in the backfield with some nice effort plays.

Jaxon Hood finally came back and found some production while he was out there and looked very good doing so. ASU will need him big time this next week so hopefully he came out of the game feeling good. Carl Bradford had a big night getting himself all over the stat column with 1.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2.5 TFLs and four total tackles. His speed was really hard for the offensive line of CU to consistently contain.

Solid contributions from Davon Coleman, Sean O'Grady, Jake Sheffield and Marcus Hardison who gets my only knock of the night. There is just something missing with him and I can't quite pinpoint it. Hardison was talking this pre-season about breaking Terell Suggs sack record (mighty big words), and yet when he is out there, his efforts and creativity just look so below average it's no wonder he has not seen the field hardly this season. I was expecting to see much more from him when it came to the type of rush he was going to produce based on his junior college film we saw. He has the frame and the talent so it seems so I just wonder where it is not clicking for him.

Linebackers

Grade: B+

Chris Young and crew had a very productive Saturday night against the Buffalos. Young was in on seven tackles and recorded a really nice sack. He was in the back field early in this game and it is very clear he has continued to get better and better each game as the season goes along which was actually the opposite last season as it seemed he almost regressed as the season went along.

Salamo Fiso is a sure tackler who can come up and stop a ball carrier quite easy. His progression this season has been refreshing to watch and it will be fun to continue to see him grow in this defense. Carlos Mendoza finally had some serious PT and he looked well running around out there. It would be great to see him fit back in as a solid role player as he really brings a lot to the table with his athletic ability.

Something the Devils may really need this next week as Washington can bring it from all over with their speed. This group right here is going to be key in the match up with the Huskies. I look forward to seeing their performance.

Secondary

Grade: B+

Damarious Randall has finally found his role on this defense and boy is it a good one. Randall has been a beast so far since he started the last game against Notre Dame. His ball skills and ability to read out the play shows he has a very high football IQ. Randall is another player that is going to be crucial in slowing down Washington this next week as he can line up in several different spots on the field to help the Sun Devil defense.

Lloyd Carrington and Robert Nelson also recorded interceptions and overall the secondary played very well. Not too hard when you are facing a true freshman quarterback yet the Devils went out and did what they needed to do. My only concern as it has been all season long is the play of Robert Nelson and his ability to lose sight of the route. Great athlete with all kinds of skills, yet it seems like he is lost and can't read out what he is seeing at a quick enough pace to adjust.

Summary

Win the games you are supposed to win and do it with dominating fashion. The Sun Devils' defense caused four turnovers and was dominating from the first series of the game. Lots of reps to go around and the kind of football game you want to be played from front to back. This group of defenders will determine what kind of afternoon the Sun Devils are going to have against the Huskies let's see if they can have another dominating effort. Let's see if this defense can show us something we haven't seen yet and halt an opponent that on paper ASU is not supposed to slow down.

Special Teams

Grades:

Kickoff Team: C+

Alex Garoutte kicked off ten times putting four of those in the end zone. He did have one out of bounds and the longest return of the night was 28 yards. An average night for the kickoff team.

Kick Return Team: D+

Two opportunities to return the ball with D.J. Foster back there and Deantre Lewis. In my opinion one of the most exciting football players in the Pac-12 and yet the return team could only muster a long return of 19 yards. The blocking was poor and CU was able to crease the lanes fairly easy in pursuit of the ball carrier.

Punt Team: B+

Gotta love it when you only need to punt twice. Both of these kicks landed inside the 20 yard line. Solid night.

Punt Return Team: B

Three returns for Robert Nelson with a long of 18 yards. This group still seems to be drastically under performing in comparison to the last ten years of ASU return teams. One of the most important plays in the college game and an opportunity to change a game. The Devils need to find a way to make this team more important.

Field Goal Team: A+

Zane Gonzalez. The young man has quietly come on as this season has progressed and he went 3 for 3 Saturday night. Big time for the true freshman and he has clearly shown why he won the kicking duties.

Overall Grades

Offense: A

Defense: B+

Special Teams: B

Offensive MVP: Taylor Kelly Defensive MVP: Chris Young In closing

A very high caliber performance from Arizona State and a showcase of just how good this team can be when it plays with confidence. Despite the horrible showing of fans in a game that was sure to be a fun one to attend, the Devils put on a show and showed how strong this team can dominate under the direction of this staff.

It is up to the fans to recognize this hard work and be a part of the change that is taking place at ASU. Sun Devil nation needs to be truly "All In" and help fill this stadium in support of the program. After what we have been witness to so far this season, it's crazy to think Sun Devil stadium is not full and rocking for every game.

So if you have the opportunity to get down to Tempe this Saturday, just do it. Help the cause and show your pride and support for your school. It weighs so heavily on recruiting, game day atmosphere, player confidence and of course finances. This week's Washington game is one of the most pivotal games ASU has had in a long time with so many implications on the line.

-KC50

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 is also a member of the Sabercats' coaching staff who won the 2010 Class 4A Division I state championship


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