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.