Devils Win Season Opener

Playing a team such as NAU, was an opportunity for ASU to extensively play its reserves and first-year players. After an impressive first half where the starters blanked the visitors 27-0, the second team couldn't continue that momentum and failed to add on any points. Ultimately, the Sun Devils held off the Lumberjacks 30-13 in the 2008 opener in front of 62,707 fans at Sun Devil stadium.

"I'm not worried about that," said ASU Head Coach Dennis Erickson on the performance of the team's reserves. "I wish the second (team) would have played better when they had an opportunity. Our theme all week was to come out and play early against them and we did…so I thought there were some real good things."

22 players in all saw action in their first collegiate contest tonight. "I owe it to those young players to play," Erickson stated, "and they had a chance to play. They'll get a lot from this game."

Arizona State's most seasoned player, Rudy Carpenter, had one of his most efficient games in his Sun Devil career. The senior signal caller was 22-28 passing for 388 yards and a touchdown. For the first time in his ASU tenure he also paced the team in rushing, and had 40 net yards on five carries, picking up two first downs in the process.

"I thought we did fairly well tonight," said Carpenter. "I still think we have a lot of work to do, especially in the run game." Carpenter, who was sacked just once, applauded his offensive line for its pass protection, and stated that their performance was instrumental in his success passing the ball on Saturday night.

Conversely, Carpenter's impressive numbers via the air and ground were also in part to the maroon and gold's inability to run the ball with any consistency. The ASU running backs, sans the injured Keegan Herring (hamstring), collected just 54 yards on 18 carries. Nance did however score a pair of touchdowns, as part of his 30 yards and 11 carry performance.

"The NAU defense did a good job of covering the gaps," said Nance." We just did the best we could, but I think we could do a lot better."

Wide receiver Mike Jones established a career-high with 162 yards (on six grabs), and was denied a touchdown when he fumbled on NAU's one-yard line following a 52-yard catch. NAU recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback.

Kerry Taylor, who scored ASU's lone receiving touchdown on a 52-yard catch, matched his scoring output form 2007, and nearly doubled last season's total of 53 yards hauling in 93 yards on four catches.

"I think I got a better opportunity in this game," said Taylor. "A lot of hard work in the off-season paid off. Rudy (Carpenter) made some good throws to me and it felt kind of easy. I'm pretty happy with the performance, but there are always things you can work on."

Taylor scored the game's first touchdown on the first offensive possession by ASU. Nance scored his two touchdowns, from three and six yards respectively, in the second quarter. Thomas Weber converted all three of his field goals from 35, 36, and 28 yards.

On defense linebacker Mike Nixon led the way with eight total tackles, and also registered two pass breakups. He also acknowledged the drop-off between the first and second team performance against NAU.

"We thought we played a really good first half," said Nixon. "We got out there and did what we wanted. Some of the younger guys got to play in the second half and we just didn't step up defensively like we needed to and we kind of let them back in the game."

The visitors scored on two field goals from Robbie Dehaze and a three-yard catch by Brian Riley. Overall, the Lumberjacks accumulated 210 yards of offense of 14 first downs in the second half.

On the other hand after the first team was done for the night midway through the third quarter, Danny Sullivan was just 1-8 for -1 yards.

Injury wise, Angelo Fobbs-Valentino appears to be the only Sun Devil nicked up following the contest. Erickson noted that it may be an MCL injury, and that more details will become available after the safety is further evaluated.

Erickson was asked to give his thoughts about the damage his team's indoor facility suffered on Thursday night during a violent rain storm. "My conversations with our people…they will rebuild it as soon as they can," he said. "The damage to the bubble is one thing, but the structure part which was the most expensive thing is still there. So we'll be able to get one up I believe shortly."

"I'm just glad that nobody was hurt with that storm. I've never seen anything like that, other than I went through (Hurricane) Andrew when I was at Miami, and it blew my house up so this wasn't much compared to that."

Sun Devil Source Top Stories