Devils Annihilate Aztecs

A grain of salt. That's how a cachous and realistic observer should take ASU's thrashing of San Diego State. Yes, it was sheer dominance on both sides of the ball in front of the 54,071 fans in attendance. However, for most of the game SDSU looked all but a formidable opponent. At the risk of sounding like an alarmist, there is A LOT of improvement needed for the Devils who face a top 15 opponent in UCLA next week in Pasadena.

The first drive by each team was a "three and out". From that point on, the three and out was a recurring theme for the Aztecs, much to the delight of the maroon and gold faithful. In the first quarter, the Aztecs had no first downs, 2:47 time of possession and a measly 12 yards of total offense. The shut out of first downs was narrowly eliminated by SDSU who recorded their only first down of the half with 1:22 remaining in the second quarter. ASU's defensive pressure came from all fronts. The Devils recorded five sacks (two by Terrell Suggs, one of them on an Aztec fourth down), had one fumble recovery (forced by Suggs, recovered by Stewart who was the leading tackler with five total tackles), and a crowd pleasing 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown by cornerback Emmanuel Franklin who was playing in his first collegiate game. That career interception set an ASU record for an interception returned for a touchdown. The other corner R.J. Oliver had two huge pass breakups, one of which prevented an Aztec score. The only downer on this side of the ball was not achieving a shut out when SDSU scored with 2:51 left in the game.

The numbers on offense are quite impressive as well. Jeff Krohn was solid with 27-35 for 271 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that on several throws Krohn did under-throw his receivers who did an admirable job coming back to catch the ball. Donnie O'neal was Krohn's favorite target of the night as evident by his seven catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns (42 and 17 yards). Mike Karney started the offensive onslaught scoring his first career touchdown – a six-yard reception. The 154 rushing yards were distributed very evenly, Delvon Flowers led the way with 42 yards on ten carries, followed by Tom Pace 35-7, Krohn 30-7, and Daryl Lightfoot 27-4. Starting running back Mike Williams' struggled with 9 yards on five carries.

To many the biggest disappointment of the night was the performance of the special teams. This unit's coach, Tom Osborne, is considered a guru in this field. After tonight's performance, no doubt that he would deem the performance of this group as grossly unacceptable. ASU allowed 62 yards in punt returns, and an eye-popping 111 yards in kick-off returns (kicker Mike Barth did have one kick-off go for a touch back). Shaun McDonald fumbled a punt, which he recovered. The 68 yards on two kick-off returns were probably the only bright spot of the night for a unit, which didn't live up to its lofty expectations.

The first game jitters really manifested themselves in the 11 penalties for 107 yards committed by the Sun Devils. And that along with the above-mentioned ASU deficiencies will have to be thoroughly corrected, in order to avoid an ugly loss at UCLA next week. San Diego State didn't challenge Arizona State, and that fact alone can temper some of the excitement generated by the Sun Devils debut. Nevertheless, the good news is that coach Koetter, his staff, and players realize that a vast improvement is vital for ASU to keep its momentum going and open Pac-10 play on the right foot. SDSU may have been an easy to concur pop quiz. UCLA will be a full-blown lengthy test, which will demand ample preparation and near flawless execution.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories