Sep 5, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Mike Bercovici (2) passes against Texas A&M Aggies at NRG Stadium. Aggies won 38 to 17. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Ask any Arizona State Sun Devil about last week’s game against the Texas A&M Aggies and they’ll probably answer with, “What Aggies?”
The Sun Devils have turned the page from that pitiful performance in the season opener last Saturday in which they lost to A&M 38-17 and went from being ranked No. 15 in the nation to out of the Top 25.
ASU knows what they need to improve on (a stronger offensive line and better play-calling, among other things) and they’ll put their restructured team to the test against the Cal Poly Mustangs on Saturday night in Tempe.
The Sun Devils (0-1) will face Cal Poly for just the fourth time in school history. According to the Cal Poly website, the previous match ups were all held in Tempe before Arizona State became a Pac-12 member in 1978. The Sun Devils picked up a 13-0 victory in 1938, 35-0 in 1939 and 33-6 in 1947. Cal Poly is facing a Pac-12 school for the first time.
According to thesundevils.com, ASU is 36-14-4 all-time against the Big Sky Conference with all 14 losses coming to Northern Arizona prior to 1938. Since 1947, the Sun Devils are 18-0 against the conference.
This season, Cal Poly (1-0) has a win under their belt after picking up the victory against No. 8 Montana of the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). In an upset fashion, the Mustangs scored a last second field goal to win the game 20-19. Their win propelled them to move up to No. 22 in the FCS Coaches Poll.
The Mustangs are described as a team that loves to run the football. Reports said that Cal Poly had two 1,000-yard rushers a year ago. One of them is current Mustangs quarterback Chris Brown. The Mustangs rushed for 330 yards against Montana last week – 130 of which belonged to Brown. Running a triple option attack, the Mustangs will be the first of back-to-back contests against teams that run that offense with ASU taking on New Mexico next week.
First, D.J. Foster. Last week, Foster’s lack of action was a huge criticism against Coach Todd Graham. Foster got the ball only nine times and picked up just 61 yards against A&M. He is expected to be a huge contributor for the ASU offense this season, so look for him to get the ball more against the Mustangs.
Next, Mike Bercovici. Berco didn’t have a bad performance last week, but a weak o-line crumbled his ability to perform the way he is expected to. He was sacked a total of nine times, but finished 25-of-41 with 199 passing yards.
The Aggies cornerbacks gave the ASU wide receivers such a hard time last week, that Berco wasn’t able to show off his canons and go deep down the field when he needed to.
I’m sure ASU will have an easier time running their routes this week as the Mustangs defense isn’t nearly as tough as A&M. We should expect some big gainers from the ASU offense on their own field Saturday night.
Up next, Special teams.
Under Graham, ASU has never had a strong special teams unit. That trend seems to have carried over into the 2015 season, as the Sun Devils special teams faltered against A&M. ASU gave up a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown last week and had two penalties for running into the kicker.
ASU has supposedly been dumping a lot of time and resources into improving the speacial teams unit. They hired former Green Bay Packers special teams coach Shawn Slocum to lead the ASU unit.
ASU has said that they have spent twice as much time working on specials teams this season. We’ll see if they can get it together in Week 2.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. MST Saturday night. The game will air live on Pac-12 Network.