(Photo: Tyler Paley/WCSN)
After the 38-17 defeat at the hands of Texas A&M to open the season, the Sun Devils will have to bounce back in a major way if they want to remain contenders. All facets of the game showed they needed improvement, and there is no better week to improve than this one.
Cal Poly of the Big Sky conference is coming off of a 20-19 victory over Montana which concluded in dramatic fashion.
With 3:43 left in the game with the score tied at 17 apiece, Cal Poly’s senior quarterback Chris Brown was called for intentional grounding in the end zone while being sacked. This gave the Grizzlies a two-point lead and the ball with very little time left.
Montana killed enough clock to leave Brown with only 1:17 to work with, but that was all he needed. He led the Mustang offense to the Montana 32-yard line, leaving the rest to the kicker.
Kicker Alex Vega knocked in the 49-yard, game-winning field goal in his first ever collegiate field goal attempt.
The only way this season could get off to a more dramatic start for the Mustangs is if they could find a way to knock off Arizona State at Sun Devil stadium.
While the Mustangs have nothing to lose going into Saturday’s game, every game from this Saturday forward is crucial for ASU to achieve its one goal of a National Championship. No matter who the opponent is.
In order to take that next step, ASU’s offensive execution and special teams need to be a whole lot better than they were against the Aggies. While the A&M game could easily be used as a learning experience, both offensive coordinator Mike Norvell and special teams coach Shawn Slocum said this week that their respective units just need to focus on playing better this weekend.
Matchup to Watch:
Chris Brown vs. ASU defense
One of the turning points in ASU’s week one loss was when freshman quarterback Kyler Murray came into the game for the Aggies. Murray was the No. 1 dual threat quarterback recruit in the 2015 class according to ESPN, and he showed his legs off at the Sun Devils’ expense running for 69 yards on only six carries. Unfortunately for ASU, Cal Poly’s senior quarterback Chris Brown isn’t what those today would call a “pocket passer.” In the Mustangs’ win over Montana, Brown was 4-12 with 56 yards passing. On the ground, he ran the ball 24 times for 130 yards. If Murray showed any signs of how running quarterbacks will treat ASU this season, the defense better be on its toes. It all starts with the linebackers.
The way ASU has gone about its business in preparation for this game at practice makes it hard to believe that they are taking Cal Poly lightly. The Texas A&M game opened up by only a few big plays, and since Cal Poly doesn’t have the talent that A&M has, it will be a lot easier to keep big plays in check and control the tempo of the game.
ASU wins big. The talent disparity is too great and given the circumstances ASU is under after losing its season opener, it is hard to see them let Cal Poly even hang around in their home stadium.