Here are notes and observations from tonight’s game:
ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly picked up where he left off at the end of last year’s 8-5 campaign. Kelly demonstrated strong leadership and command of the Sun Devil offense, completing 23 of 31 passing attempts and throwing five touchdowns in first half duty.
Backup quarterback Mike Bercovici got quality reps in relief of Kelly in the second half. Fellow backup QB Michael Eubank found the end zone on a four-yard run.
The receiving corps for ASU showed much-needed improvement from 2012. Wide receivers Kevin Ozier and Jaelen Strong both scored touchdowns, as did tight end Chris Coyle. Juco-transfer TE De’Marieya Nelson also had his first Sun Devil TD.
The ASU running game proved it was deserving of all the pre-season hype that came its way. RB Marion Grice saw extended action running and catching the ball, while comeback kid Deantre Lewis shouldered the load late in the game.
Defense was anticipated to be a strong suit for the Devils in 2013, and tonight’s performance did not disappoint. DT Will Sutton recovered a fumble that set up a touchdown, and newcomer Antonio Longino contributed the evening’s only sack. Unfortunately, LB Chris Young left the game in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury. His status is unknown.
Throughout the spring and fall, special teams were a concern for the ASU coaching staff. Against Sacramento State, they were a mixed bag. True freshman Zane Gonzalez made a 40-yard field goal early in the second half, but missed from 33 and 49 yards later in the contest. He did connect on a 29-yard FG to give ASU its winning margin.
The Sun Devils next face the Wisconsin Badgers at home on Saturday, September 14.