Contributed by Staff Writer Don Hansen:
Throughout the season, the ASU Devils Den football podcast has its “Three Tines to the Game.” In honor of the tines on Sparky’s pitchfork, this podcast segment focuses on three keys to a game. In this case, we cover the three key items for the team to achieve during its 2013 season opener against the Sacramento State Hornets on Thursday, September 4, 2013 at 7 PM.
First Tine of the Game: Win, Win Convincingly, and Win Big
Fans of the Pac-12 saw what happened at Oregon State last weekend…David can slay Goliath, and ASU cannot let Sacramento State come into Tempe and even compete. The Sun Devils must punish the Hornets to make a statement that they are a big-time program in preparation for a huge non-conference showdown with Wisconsin (#BlackoutBucky). By playing strong Sun Devil football, it allows the coaching staff to get the 2s and 3s on to the field to help solve position battles and get more reps for the later arriving Junior College transfers.
Second Tine of the Game: Stay Healthy
It will be a hot night in Tempe. The Sun Devil starters need to get their work in, and then they need to get off the field. Arizona State has a grueling stretch of opponents in the next four weeks (Wisconsin, Stanford, USC, Notre Dame), and any extra rest for the starters will go a long way later on in the games upcoming against these physical teams.
Third Tine of the Game: Linebackers and Safeties Step Up
There is a lot of depth on the defensive side of the ball, but somebody in the linebacker core and in the defensive secondary needs to step up and show that they want to be the starter. The safety-nets of Brandon Magee and Keelan Johnson are gone, and with a blitz-heavy defense, their replacements need to be found now in preparation for Pac-12 conference play. The new linebackers and safeties must show they are assignment-sound and that they communicate with others on the field.
There are some other key points to work on tonight like finding a punter, developing confidence in a freshman placekicker, and developing game-day timing between Taylor Kelly and his new wide receivers, but these three are our “Three Tines of the Game.”