Newcomer Report: ASU at USC

Arizona State’s dramatic 38-34 at USC featured many veterans making their mark, but some of the Sun Devils’ first-year players stamped their impact in that contest as well.

Defense:

Five newcomers started on defense and no one stood more than Jordan Simone did. The safety posted a career high 20 tackles in the game, including 12 solo, and is the first Sun Devil to reach 20 tackles since Mark Tingstad against Arizona back in 1988. Simone, a redshirt junior, who has registered double-digit tackles in two games this season, now has also have the highest single-game tackle total for a defensive player under Todd Graham at ASU.

Although not as consistent as Simone was, Linebacker D.J. also had a career night with nine tackles, 2.5 for a loss, all in the first half, and also recorded his first career sack. The true freshman also had a pass breakup, but struggled in coverage in the second half and yielded way for portions of that period to his backup Carlos Mendoza.

Junior college transfer Edmond Boateng started back at Devil backer after seeing some reps in recent weeks at defensive end, and against the Trojans may have had his best game as a Sun Devil with four tackles, two of them for a loss and was one of the standouts on a defensive line that generally didn’t play well.

ASU’s run defense left much to be desired on Saturday night, which meant that interior lineman such as Tashon Smallwood, didn’t have the best of outings. The true freshman Tiger lineman had one assisted tackle.

Cornerback Kweishi Brown set a career high with five tackles, but also struggled with his coverage and tackling especially in the second half.

Out of all the reserve newcomers on defense, lineman Demetrius Cherry may have had the best performance with three tackles, and lately this JC transfer has been trending as one of the better players on a unit that has had its share of struggles.

Linebacker Christian Sam had five total tackles but had also a hard time replacing Laiu Moeakiola at Spur and was one of the biggest culprits in the poor tackling that the ASU defense was suffering from.

Cornerback Solomon Means had two assisted tackles, while fellow corner and true freshman Armand Perry had one assisted tackle. Linebacker Alani (A.J.) Latu chipped in with one solo tackle. Lineman Chans Cox, safety James Johnson, linebacker Marcus Ball, and lineman Paul Crawford all saw time in Saturday’s game as well.

Offense:

Tight end Kody Kohl, the only newcomer who started on this side of the ball, set a career high with three catches for 43 yards. The redshirt sophomore matched his career receiving-yard total on the Sun Devils’ first drive of the second quarter as he notched two catches, one for 12 yards and one for 16, to set up the Devils’ first touchdown of the game. Both catches were career longs at the time.

For the second week in a row Ellis Jefferson was more involved in the passing game, and the redshirt freshman wide receiver had two catches for 44 yards feeling very comfortable with his roommate quarterback Mike Bercovici behind center.

True freshman running back Kalen Ballage had a modest contribution of nine yards on three carries.

Offensive linemen Christian Westerman, Stephon McCray and Jack Powers, running back Jacom Brimhall, tight ends Grant Martinez and Brendan Landman all saw action.


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