The Arizona State Sun Devils opened the season under the direction of new head coach Todd Graham in blazing fashion. They defeated the vastly inferior Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks 63-6, but they looked impressive doing it. It didn't just seem to be a win over a team that was simply not as good, but a victory that instilled some hope that these Devils are ready for big things in 2012.
By watching this onslaught, we learned plenty about what this team is made of. Brad Denny, a writer for SB Nation Arizona and the Sun Devils blog, House of Sparky, detailed some of what we learned from the big opening victory.
D.J. Foster, the Devils' true freshman starting running back, has the potential to be very, very good. He was a local four star prospect recruited to ASU and showed why he deserved such a ranking. He will need to improve his ball security skills, but his top end speed and versatility to play all over the field make him a one of a kind offensive weapon. It's a good thing the Devils have him on their side.
Then you have Chris Young, a JUCO transfer that does a little bit of everything himself -- only, he does it on defense. He plays both as a linebacker and a safety, similar to what Adrian Wilson of the Arizona Cardinals does. We saw him in the box for much of the night, creating havoc in the opponent's backfield. He had 2.5 tackles for a loss and as Denny notes, he should be a big contributor all season for ASU.
Then you have another defensive star in Brandon Magee, the senior captain for the Devils. His pick six marked the first of many big defensive plays that he is expected to make this season. Instead of joining the Boston Red Sox with a contract offer, he decided to stay in school and lead the Sun Devils to great things. I think he made the right choice.
Lastly, we know that Coach Graham's system can be effective. His disciplinary actions and fiery coaching style lent themselves to this victory. As Denny notes in his article, no player gets special treatment under his system. If you fumble or make any sort of crucial mistake, you will be pulled from the game. It's that simple. Players need to be held accountable and Graham is going to do just that.
With this victory, however, we need to remember to temper our enthusiasm. The NAU Lumberjacks are hardly a test for a team like ASU, but when the Devils take on the Illinois Fighting Illini this weekend in Tempe, that will be a real test.
For more on the Arizona State Sun Devils, head over to House of Sparky.