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Arizona State opened the season with an emphatic 63-6 win over Northern Arizona on Thursday night at Sun Devil Stadium. In his first game as head coach, Graham's Sun Devils racked up 554 yards while holding their opponent to 237. ASU's defense forced three turnovers, including an interception that linebacker and team captain Brandon Magee returned 45 yards for a touchdown.
"Obviously, we dominated a team we should dominate," Graham told the team. "But we totally dominated a team we should dominate."
Watch the video below to see Graham's whole speech as well as Magee presenting the game ball and the sledgehammer for one player to start the new tradition of breaking the rock.
The Arizona State Sun Devils jumped out to a 42-0 nothing halftime lead and cruised the rest of the way, owning all aspects of the game in route to a 63-6 season opening win over Northern Arizona Thursday evening. Michael Eubank, D.J. Foster, Brandon Magee, Marion Grice and Richard Smith each scored their first career collegiate touchdowns and the Devils forced three turnovers including the Magee pick-six.
Taylor Kelly seemed in total control in his starting debut, completing 15-of-19 passes for 247 yards and a passing touchdown to Smith. Kelly also contributed 43 yards on the ground, proving to fans Eubank isn't the only dual threat quarterback the Devils have to offer.
That's not to take anything away from Eubank's performance though. The quarterback rotation was fluid and effective in its debut with head coach Todd Graham sprinkling in just the right amount of Eubank in redzone packages. Overall, the redshirt freshman had seven carries for 36 hard fought yards including a touchdown late in the second quarter.
The running backs corp was also mighty impressive in their own right, combining for 305 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Grice (game-high 107 yards) chipped in three scores while Marshall had two of his own before being pulled from the game after an early fumble. Later on, coach Graham would give Foster the same punishment following his fumble despite the true freshman compiling 99 total yards and finding pay dirt once during his time on the field. Yes folks, the first year Sun Devils head coach wasn't kidding about his "owning the ball" or else philosophy after all.
On the other side of the trenches, the defense looked like everything fans were promised. The new 3-3-5 scheme limited the Lumberjacks to only 92 total yards in the first half while totaling nine tackles for losses over the entirety of the game. The pash rush relentlessly swarmed both NAU quarterbacks all throughout as well, sending five, even six pass rushers at a time while limiting the Lumberjack passers to a combined completion percentage of under 50% (12-of-26).
Overall, this was undoubtedly a debut to remember for Graham and company. His team looked fast, disciplined and prepared in every meaning of the word from start to finish. Obviously the caliber of opponent isn't the highest but fans should still be encouraged after this performance. The Devils did everything that was expected of them and more and will now look to build on this momentum next Saturday against Illinois.
It may be against just Northern Arizona but Arizona State absolutely dominated the first half, scoring 42 unanswered points while owning the total yards department 356 to the Lumberjacks' 92. Cameron Marshall, D.J. Foster, Marion Grice and Michael Eubank combined for five rushing touchdowns with the defense chipping in three interceptions and four tackles for loss.
Marshall got things started with a nine-yard touchdown to cap off the first drive and then added another just seven plays later. Foster opened the second quarter with a one-yard touchdown of his own before Brandon Magee took an interception to the house on the Lumberjacks following possession.
Grice would get in on the fun on the Sun Devils next drive, pounding in a one-yard touchdown that was set up by a 50-yard reception from Rashad Ross. Eubank then got his first touchdown as a Sun Devil after Alden Darby made his job easy with a 50-yard interception return that put the ball at the three yard line.
Overall, Taylor Kelly has seemed confident in his first game as the Devil's signal caller, completing 9-of-13 passes for 187 yards. Kelly also pitched in 41 yards on the ground to go along with his smart, decisive decision making. The freshman instate phenom Foster has also been impressive in his own right, compiling a 10.8 yard average on his carries for 65 yards on the ground while adding 30 additional receiving yards.
With the comfortable lead, Sun Devils fans could now be treated to some backup action. Not that anyone's complaining though as the first 30 minutes of Todd Graham's ASU coaching career have been as entertaining as anyone could have hoped.
The Arizona State football program is ushering in a new era as Todd Graham coaches his first game for the Sun Devils against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks Thursday night at Sun Devil Stadium.
ASU went 6-7 last season under the former Dennis Erickson regime, and even though Graham went 6-7 with Pitt last year, the change brought by him is palpable with the players and fans, hoping to get back to their previous winning ways.
As for NAU, it went 4-7 last season in FCS play, and will be the second straight season it starts against a Pac-12 team. It was blown out by Arizona 41-10 last season.
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
When: 7:30 p.m. PT Thursday
TV Coverage: Pac-12 Network
Radio Coverage: KMVP 860 AM
You can check out ASU's complete football schedule here.
For more in-depth discussion and top notch analysis of the Arizona State Sun Devils, please make sure to check out House of Sparky. For more on college football in general, head over to SB Nation's dedicated college football hub.
Arizona State Sun Devils receiver Kyle Middlebrooks and defensive tackle Corey Adams are expected to be the only players out of Thursday's game against the NAU Lumberjacks, head coach Todd Graham said at a press conference on Monday.
Adams has a problematic back, but isn't expected to be out more than a few weeks. Middlebrooks, a 5'9 junior, is recovering from a shoulder injury.
"I don't think that either one of those guys will play. Corey, which I'm pretty fired up about, is feeling a lot better today. I think it's going to be soon that he will get back. I think that we could probably play Kyle if we wanted to this weekend, but we probably will not."
Arizona State might not be facing the most exciting of opponents to begin the season but there's still a lot that fans should be looking for in this one.
As the Arizona State Sun Devils prepare for their season opener against Northern Arizona on Thursday, starting quarterback Taylor Kelly is chomping at the bit to get out on the field and start playing games that matter once again.
"I'm ready, I'm really excited for Thursday," Kelly said Tuesday. "I worked hard for it over the summer and during spring and it's finally here, so let's take advantage of it."
Kelly will be the fifth different starting quarterback for the Sun Devils in the last five season-opening games. Nevertheless, he will go through the gambit of emotions before he takes center stage down in Tempe:
"I'm going to have butterflies, I'm going to have excitement, the crowd is gonna be going, there's going to be chills," he said. "I can't wait."
Kick off at Sun Devil stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. PT.
For more in depth discussion and analysis of the Arizona State Sun Devils, make sure that you check out House of Sparky. For more on NCAA football in general, please check out SB Nation's dedicated college football hub.
The Arizona State Sun Devils are going to be playing two quarterbacks in their season-opener against the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Taylor Kelly won the starting job a few weeks ago, but Michael Eubank should also see some time in the season-opener. Here is what Arizona State head coach Todd Graham had to say about this particular arrangement in today's press conference.
"Taylor will be the every down guy and Mike (Eubank) is going to play as he progresses. Eubank’s package is going to continue to grow. We are going to have Taylor do the things he does well and Mike do the things he does well. We are pretty comfortable using two quarterbacks but I do think that Taylor will get the majority of the reps. It wont be half and half. It will be more like two-thirds and a third. Here’s the thing, if I call a play and it works, obviously I am going to call that play again. It depends on what’s working. I’m hoping we can play 80-plus plays with Taylor playing 50 and Mike playing about 30."
Kelly is probably the most complete of the three quarterbacks. He has a good grasp of the playbook and can take command of the offense the best, which is why he'll be starting the majority of the snaps. However, Eubank does provide some tantalizing upside. Although his passing needs some work, his running skills could come in very handy for Graham's offense. ASU will be all about up-tempo offense and attacking in all phases of the game, and Eubank could provide that additional dimension with his run attack to complement Kelly's all-around ability and Cameron Marshall's feature-back status.
Here are the latest reports from ASU fall practice in preparation for the first game of the season against Northern Arizona. Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic has some of the quotes from ASU head coach Todd Graham's media meeting today, and he's tweeted some of the important notes.
Taylor Kelly won the starting quarterback job, but he will not be getting all the reps during the game. Michael Eubank is expected to play a bit too. Right now Graham has the break down at 50 plays for Kelly and Eubank gets 30, so the Sun Devils will split their quarterbacks about 62.5%-37.5% during the game as of this moment.
Graham still has some big concerns about defensive discipline and giving up big plays.
With regards to injuries, defensive tackle Corey Adams is not scheduled to play Thursday, although he is feeling better today and he may return soon. Wide receiver Kyle Middlebrooks likely won't play.
Talk about Kelly and Eubank with Sun Devil fans at House of Sparky. Hit up the SB Nation NCAA football hub for more comprehensive college football coverage.
Arizona State football coach Todd Graham named four seniors as season captains of the Sun Devils' squad on Sunday. Linebacker Brandon Magee, safety Keelan Johnson, running back Cameron Marshall and guard Andrew Sampson are all the leadership figures for the team.
The Arizona Central reports Todd Graham was initially thinking on going with two captains on the year, but said there was no way he could separate the four players.
"I'm so proud of Keelan,'' Graham said. "That surprised me. I'm not lying to you. He's very well deserving. But when I first came in here I did not think that Keelan would be a captain. That surprised me and he was a great pick.
Graham will rely heavily on his captains to help pilot a squad he took over in December last year. The Sun Devils started 2011 6-2 and looked poised to win the Pac-12 South, only to lose their final four regular season games and send coach Dennis Erickson packing.
The biggest thing I'm asking them to do is be courageous. That means they need to be the hardest-working player on the field. That means they need to be the most-disciplined player on the field. That means they're going to get coached harder, strained harder, yelled at harder than anybody out here. And I expect them to lead and show everybody how you handle adversity. The ante just went up for those guys
Follow this link the Arizona Central to view some interviews with the four captains.
For more on the Arizona State Sun Devils football program, head over to House of Sparky and join the discussion.
The Todd Graham era at ASU begins as the Sun Devils open the 2012 season this Thursday with a game against Northern Arizona.