Arizona State Sun Devil Defense Turns Up The Heat in Blowout of Idaho State
The numbers don't lie. Arizona State completely dominated Idaho State in every aspect of the game Saturday night. From the opening whistle, Arizona State looked like they were on a mission, and anyone or anything that got in their way, was not going to stand a chance in "hell."
With the stadium decked out in maroon and gold, the fans in attendance witnessed an impressive showing from senior linebacker Mike Nixon. Not only did Nixon add to his career total in interceptions, but he returned one of his three picks in the game for a touchdown.
But the job was not done there for Mike Nixon, he went to work on special teams as well, blocking a punt at the end of the first half. In total, Nixon had a key helping hand in ten points of ASU's 23-0 first half lead. The Senior linebacker certainly started his campaign just as he ended the 2008 season, leading the Pacific-10 in interceptions.
However, Nixon certainly was not the only story in a 50-3 win for Arizona State. Senior quarterback Danny Sullivan made his first career start at Sun Devil Stadium in front of 42,588 fans.
The Los Gatos, CA gunslinger engineered an impressive opening drive, which led to a Thomas Weber field goal. Although his on the field performance was stellar, his final passing numbers easily could have easily exceeded 200 yards and two or maybe three touchdowns. Key drops early by receivers Kyle Williams, Gerrell Robinson, and tight end Dan Knapp probably should have resulted in touchdowns for the Sun Devils.
However, Sullivan did not let the drops faze him. He kept his composure, even while under pressure from the defense, and managed the game tremendously. The Senior carried himself with confidence, and pumped his fists encouraging his team to continue their work and finish the job.
Sullivan's final numbers in his debut as a starter were: 13-25 for 165 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions (in 2 1/2 quarters).
Another nice stat to read, was only one sack given up by the offensive line. Although the offensive line has improved, the big boys up front still had trouble with delayed blitzes and zone blitzes from their opponent.
Sullivan was hurried on numerous occasions, however, the Senior quarterback made good decisions, eluding pass rushers, throwing the ball away, and even showing off his mobility.
There were many positives as you walked away from Sun Devil Stadium, and another bright spot for ASU was their place kicker, Thomas Weber. Weber connected on five of his six field goal attempts and all five of his extra points, totaling in 20 points for the Sun Devils. Three of his heavy kickoffs went through the end zone for touchbacks as well.
Dennis Erickson has a lot to be proud of following this game. Number one, the Sun Devils earned their first win of the season and sprinted out of the gates in 2009. The defense led by coordinator Craig Bray gave up only 37 total yards the whole night, and held Idaho State to zero total yards of offense at halftime.
Linebackers Mike Nixon and Brandon Magee helped lead the Sun Devils to five takeaways, while the ASU offense did not turn the ball over once. Finally in close, Danny Sullivan and the ASU offense was relatively efficient in their first game of the season. The offense totaled 407 yards, 208 passing, and 199 rushing.
The Sun Devils were also without nearly ten players due to suspensions or injuries.
Now, with a bye week looming, and Louisiana Monroe up next on the schedule, Erickson and the Sun Devils cannot allow a repeat of last season's disappointing upset loss to UNLV. The Louisiana Monroe Warhawks are a dangerous opponent, and have an impressive track record of pulling off upsets.
With that being said, I don't think that Dennis Erickson will allow any complacency to set in with his squad during the bye week, and Erickson, will look for even more improvement upon a 50-3 opening week victory against the Idaho State Bengals.
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