Another out of confrence game, another dominating Sun Devil win. The ASU first year players chipped in their contributions to the 63-27 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Here's a rundown of the notable accomplishments of the first year players.
For wide receiver Daryl Lightfoot, it was a night of blunder and redemption. The blunder was fumbling a punt return, which resulted in a 15-yard loss as well as a turnover, which led ASU's opponent to a touchdown. Later that game the true freshman had a punt return of 25 yards, and a kick-off return of 20 yards. Another dazzling play by Lightfoot was a reverse that he ran for 41 yards, which almost resulted in his first ASU touchdown. This athletically gifted player is proving his worth as a special teams standout, and most of his plays on offense usually net the team big chunks of yards. After recovering from a broken jaw, Lightfoot suffered a high ankle sprain on Saturday, which leaves his status for this week's USC game in question.
Ever since true freshmen defensive backs Jason Shivers and Lamar Baker were inserted into the starting lineup, they have simply played solid Football. Free safety Shivers delivered 6 tackles mostly on defense, but his one tackle on special teams was a punishing one, which drew raves from the crowd. Cornerback Baker had two tackles on the night, and was given a game ball for his contributions on special teams. With starting cornerback R.J. Oliver returning from suspension this week, Baker may see less playing time on defense, but his position on special teams is extremely secure right now.
Other first-year secondary players who made significant contributions were Riccardo Stewart with four tackles, Adrian Thomas with four tackles as well, and Emmanuel Franklin with three. Linebacker Bart Hammit had two tackles, one of them for a loss and defensive tackle Khoa Nguyen had a tackle for loss as well. Both players could see more duty during confrence play because of possible different alignments (going to three linebackers) and injuries (at the defensive tackle spot).
Many challenging tests lie ahead for ASU's newcomers. While coaches and fans are encouraged by the performances they saw from this group against the non-confrence opponents, the level of competition from here out will be on a much higher level. One can only hope that the experience and confidence gained so far by these players will pay heavy dividends in Pac-10 play this season.
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