ASU rolled to victory in their opening game against FCS opponent Weber State. The 45-14 win will satisfy the fans and the media that this team is on track to accomplish their goals of competing for a PAC-12 South title.
For the coaches and players, there are two ways they will look at this game. First, they’ll be happy and relieved that they won big, got a lot of players some experience and had no major injuries. And there is much to be excited about. The depth at the skill positions seems to be legitimate. The freshmen that started and played were impressive.
However, when everybody sits down to watch the film, there will be some “one way conversations” occurring. While there may not have been many glaring critical errors, there certainly were some mistakes and some “average” play.
Taylor Kelly was efficient, as usual. But he wasn’t the sharpest that we’ve seen him. He missed terribly on a few throws. He made a few bad reads. Even some of his completions were poorly thrown balls that were caught as a result of a great play by the receiver. Kelly didn’t play bad, but at this point in his career, we expect him to be near perfect against a team like Weber State.
The offensive line was good, but not great. The re-tooled O line was excellent in pass protection, but they struggled a little in run blocking. Yes, statistically, the Sun Devils ran the ball well. However, many of those runs were the result of a running back making a great move and outrunning the defense.
Defensively, there is work to be done. At times, the front 7 got pushed around. It could be rust, it could be fatigue, it could be youth. But the film will show some of the defensive linemen, including veteran Jaxon Hood, getting worked on single blocks. It’s still early, but if Weber State linemen can do that, imagine what Stanford will do.
The re-vamped special teams didn’t look improved at all. The kickoff unit had some issues with tackling. The punt return team made an error catching the ball inside the ten yard line. Again, like every other phase of the game, special teams was good, but not great. They must improve if they want to really contend in the PAC-12.
In all, the ASU staff will most assuredly just take the win and use the experience to teach their players. Perhaps its the high standards that are now in place for ASU, but the fact that they beat Weber State 45-14 may not be enough. This team needs to get better. They have two weeks to be ready for PAC-12 play and they’ll need every bit of it.