Jamal Miles continues to put the "special" in Arizona State's special teams.
A season after taking one of his three kickoff returns back for a touchdown, the speedy sophomore and Paul Hornung Award contender was right back at it. Miles took the opening kickoff of the second half--the Aggies' first of the game--98 yards for the touchdown. He wasn't alone in having success on kickoff returns, as A.J. Pickens took one back 54 yards in the fourth quarter.
After finishing second in the nation in kickoff return average, the Sun Devils are well on their way to being among the nation's elite.
However, the prognosis was not so sterling on their kickoff coverage. The Aggie returners routinely gashed the Devils, who had difficulty in both maintaining their lanes and getting off blocks. On the night, the Aggies averaged 28.4 yards on their eight returns. With a far more talented opponent in Missouri coming to town, that is one area that special teams coach Jamie Christian must shore up immediately.
The punt game was more consistent for ASU.
Mile and Rashad Ross each had punt returns of over 20 yards and collectively averaged 15.5 yards on their six returns. Meanwhile, Sun Devil punter Josh Hubner only had to make one kick, but it was a booming 54 yard blast that was fumbled by UC Davis' Tom Hemmingsen and recovered by ASU's Alden Darby. Four plays later, the Devils scored to increase their lead to 14-0.
After struggling most of the off-season, ASU kicker Alex Garoutte was excellent, showing great leg strength while connecting on field goals of 49 and 25 yards. Perhaps most encouraging for Sun Devils fans was the fact that no extra points were blocked, as Garoutte made all six of his attempts.