A statement was made last night by Arizona State. It was not a 50-point offensive firework show, or a dominating defensive performance, but in all three aspects of the game, the Arizona State Sun Devils proved that the 2009 version of the maroon and gold mean business.
On the opening play against the ULM Warhawks, this sentiment was felt throughout the stadium. Junior cornerback and kick returner Omar Bolden followed punishing blocks by Keelan Johnson and Jamar Robinson to race down the sideline for a 89-yard touchdown.
Any thoughts about a possible repeat of the UNLV debacle of 2008, quickly vanished. The Sun Devils came to play and would not allow for another embarrassment.
Offensively, the Sun Devils came out throwing from their opening play. Senior quarterback Danny Sullivan followed up his stellar Idaho State performance, with an even more impressive showing against Louisiana Monroe. Sullivan finished 19 of 31 for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns.
One of Danny Sullivan's touchdowns, came through the air to Chris McGaha, who made an outstanding one handed, juggling grab in the second quarter to increase the ASU lead to 14. Sullivan also scored from one yard out on a quarterback sneak late in the third quarter to put the game out of reach by a score of 35-7.
Although the receivers had a case of the drops last game against ISU, this week, those incomplete passes turned into big plays and touchdowns by McGaha, Kyle Williams, and tight end Jovan Williams.
The receiving corps also got a big boost from Junior receiver Kerry Taylor returning from his one game suspension. Taylor gave Sullivan and the ASU offense another big play threat for defenses to have nightmares about.
The three receivers, Kyle Williams, McGaha, and Taylor, will no doubt be on the minds of Georgia defensive coaches, as they go to sleep this week. The "big three," combined to haul in 16 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown.
The receiving corps also had a huge impact on third down conversions. Dennis Erickson's offense was 7 of 15 on third down conversions and finished with 338 total yards of offense.
However, the passing game was not the only story on offense, the running game gave the ASU offensive attack tremendous balance.
Senior running back, Dimitri Nance led the way for the Sun Devils on the ground. The lone star state running back utilized his slashing speed to get past the first level of defenders, and his powerful legs churned to grind out the tough yards inside the tackle.
Nance averaged 4.8 yards a carry last night, a great improvement from ASU's total from last season of 2.8 yards a carry. Dimitri Nance ended the night with 17 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns.
The blocking up front by the offensive line can't be overlooked either. The success of Nance on the ground and the passing game would be grounded without the hard work of the five guys up front. Shawn Lauvao, John Hargis, Thomas Altieri, Matt Hustad, and Tom N'Junge looked good from the opening whistle.
The "hog mollies" up front, gave up three sacks last night and had a number of mental errors that resulted in penalties, but overall the job was a success for the blue collar workers last night.
With all the talk of offensive success, this season, the talk of the town in Tempe has been the defensive unit wearing maroon and gold. Honestly, last night was more of the same from Craig Bray's defense.
The numbers were not as pretty as the Idaho State game, but the result was the same. Although linebacker Mike Nixon, did not have his Pac-10 defensive player of the week type game, his fellow linebacker Travis Goethel did his part to earn the honors.
Goethel had one interception and one recovered fumble on special teams. The Vista, CA linebacker could have had a touchdown to his name, but "sack master" Dexter Davis ended up bringing Goethel to the ground.
The Warhawks option attack looked like they were stuck in neutral the whole game. The defensive front was in the backfield on nearly every play. The return of defensive tackle Lawrence Guy helped free up Sai'a Falahola, Dexter Davis, and Dean DeLeone on the outside. The Warhawks gained 136 yards on the ground, however, those numbers were inflated late in the game when ULM quarterback Trey Revell scampered down the field for 37 yards.
The defensive backs were also tested for the first time this season, and the leader of the group, Omar Bolden brought his "A" game. Bolden intercepted his first pass of the season, to go with his sensational touchdown return on special teams.
Clearly the statement tonight was that the Sun Devils are a team, not just one or two star players, but every player on the roster knows their role. This thought came to the forefront when 2007 Lou Groza award winner, Tom Weber would not kick for ASU.
Weber pulled a hip flexor muscle Thursday during practice, and he attempted to kick in warm ups and during the Sun Devils' Friday practice, however, trainers and coaches suggested to let the injury heal for the heavyweight fights later in the season.
Although, this contest did not seem to be much of a fight by the final score (38-14), but the Warhawks fought hard and tried to get their punches in. However, the Sun Devils were not going to go down lightly.
In fact, Dennis Erickson's squad threw a number of knock out punches to seal the deal against the Warhawks. None more effective than Omar Bolden's 89 yard kick return touchdown to start the contest.
Up Next: The Georgia Bulldogs
Saturday's result: 52-41 win over Arkansas
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