Devils Bounce Back, Spank Spartans

Feeling down after a humiliating conference loss? Playing at home against an inferior out of conference opponent is just what the doctor ordered. The Arizona State Sun Devils took out all their frustrations after falling to Stanford last week, by routing the San Jose State Spartans 53-15. The Devils, like in their season opener against SDSU, featured a high-octane offense, and a stifling defense. However, the win also marked the return of ASU's long-time staple – a dominating running game.

With 224 rushing yards and 229 passing yards, the Sun Devils offense was extremely balanced to say the least. Jeff Krohn continued his fine play with an efficient passing game. Several dropped passes by his receivers skewed his stats, which included 15-22 for 229 yards. His two interceptions can be easily forgiven, on a night where the sophomore threw for four touchdowns and rushed for one more. The quarterback's favorite target on a night was an unlikely one – Ryan Dennard. The stars were aligned for the seldom-used senior. Last night it seemed that he could probably make All-Pro corner Deion Sanders look foolish. Amazingly, Dennard' s numbers were modest with 4 catches for 41 yards. However, three of his catches went for touchdowns, and on a night where the stars were aligned for him, his last touchdown came after he recovered a fumble from an intercepting San Jose player for another score.

Head coach Dirk Koetter seemed to be annoyed when asked earlier in the week why his team's running game has been none existent. Suffice to say that after last night's performance, that's one question that will surely not be asked. Nevertheless, inquiring minds would like to know – has Delvon Flowers FINALLY secured a starting job in the backfield? While the tandem of M.Williams and Pace couldn't do much on the ground, Flowers erupted for 159 yards on only 21 carries, and scored his first touchdown of the season. In defense of Flowers' teammates, it should be noted that many of Flowers' yards came after the Spartan's defense loosened up the eight man-man front they showed for most of the game. The senior running back was underutilized his junior year, but after his latest performance that mistake is unlikely to re-occur this season.

The defense had its ups and downs during the first half, but once they put on the clamps the second half, fans were reminded why this unit is the strength of the team. While the pass-rush was less than adequate, the defensive line did manage to record two sacks. Nonetheless, this line halted San Jose's star running back Deonce Whittaker for –6 yards, while the Spartans as whole had a meager 63 yards on the ground. The Devils defense did surrender 272 yards, but many of those yards were outside the "red zone" and had virtually no impact on the game. The secondary featured two true freshmen who started in their first ever game, Jason Shivers and Lamar Baker. This homegrown talented tandem faired very well in their devils debut. Shivers had five solo tackles, and Baker added two tackles, one pick, and one pass deflection.

After being an Achilles heal for the first two games, the special teams unit came out in full force. Pace and M.Williams did nothing to endanger their roles as kick-off returners, when both averaged over 30 yards a return. Freshman phenom Daryl Lightfoot did get the call at punt returner, and the elusive one brought back excitement to this phase of the special teams with 3 returns going for 53 yards. Kicker Barth not only stayed perfect on the season on his field goal attempts, but also booted most of his kick-offs out of the end zone.

If the goal of last night's game was to correct the shortcomings of the team, and regain confidence – then mission accomplished. This is especially true for the defense and special teams units. The Sun Devils finish out their out of conference schedule this week with a home game against Louisiana-Lafayette, who should pose even less of a challenge than the Spartans did. No one on the coaching staff or the team itself is feeling overly giddy after this convincing win, which is a resounding testament to the focus of the Sun Devils. The team knows there's still work ahead of them, and improvements are still needed in order not to have another dismal performance in their next conference match.

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