(Photo: Nicholas Badders/WCSN)
It’s gameday, Sun Devil fans. Here’s what you need to know in advance of ASU football’s season opener vs. New Mexico State.
Scouting the Aggies:
- Running back Larry Rose III is their primary weapon on offense. In 2015, Rose led the Sun Belt with 1,651 rushing yards and was named a 3rd team All-American. He’s fully healthy after missing the first three games of 2016 due to injury.
- Quarterback Tyler Rogers was an All-Sun Belt Honorable Mention in 2016, throwing for 2,603 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Peoria, Arizona native led Liberty High School to three league championships.
- New Mexico State (3-9, 2-6 Sun Belt) was one of the worst defensive teams in the country last season, allowing 497 yards per game.
Keys to the game for ASU:
- Get off to a hot start offensively. ASU has a multitude of offensive weapons that can expose a porous New Mexico State defense, so getting out to an early rhythm is crucial.
- Get a stop on the opening drive. For momentum’s sake, allowing a team of New Mexico State’s caliber to score on its first drive would be troublesome. The “Desert Dogs” need to show they’re more bite than bark and shut down the Aggies immediately.
- Don’t get comfortable. This game, for all intents and purposes, is a tune-up for the Sun Devils. If all goes well, they’ll leave Sun Devil Stadium the victors by 30 points or more. Getting complacent is the recipe for a game that ends far too close than it should be.
Changes to watch for:
- The brand new video board in the north end zone, measuring 164 by 48 feet.
- The statue of Pat Tillman, unveiled on Wednesday, which every player and coach will touch before they take the field.
- New faces in the secondary after Armand Perry’s medical retirement and Kareem Orr’s transfer.
- A new kicker with a big leg to replace Zane Gonzalez, freshman Brandon Ruiz.