This is gonna be about the defense. Much will be made about the offense's lack of identity, lack of consistency, lack of imagination, and lack of being the type of offense we're used to. There will be plenty on that later. This is a glass-is-half-full-because-we-just-beat-a-top-fifteen-team-by-three-touchdowns type of post. Let's go.
-1. Turnover difference. Okay, so that's partially about the offense. Now we're done with the offense. The defense recovered a pair of fumbles including one around the five yard-line. Turnover difference hurt us last year because we weren't forcing them nearly often enough.
1. Punt return touchdown. You just sort of felt that this game could hinge on a single explosive play, and this one sparked a lethargic team into a two-touchdown lead that gave the defense even more confidence.
2. Fumble recoveries. Multiple turnovers is a good way to start out the season, especially against a solid team like ASU. And these were forced fumbles (five! of them) , not Auburn fumbles. Our guys were putting hats on the ball and flying around and doing other defense-speak things.
2.2. Yards per rush by ASU. The D held ASU to under 100 rushing yards and under 300 total yards. Yeah, in a whole game. Back the money truck up to Chief's house, Eric.
26%. Third down conversion rate for the Sun Devils (5/19). "Third and Chavis more like third and Myles amirite" No one said this, hopefully.
4. Sacks by Daeshon Hall over on the other side. Sure, go ahead and triple-team Myles Garrett and hold him to 2 sacks and a forced fumble, that's fine with us.
5. Penalties. The team had only five penalties for 50 total yards. In a week 1 game against a very good opponent away from Kyle Field. This is very good and should not be glossed over. Great job, Big 12 refs! The defense also forced five fumbles. That's good!
6. DONOVANNNN. Numero seis was a wrecking ball at the nickel. He had eight tackles, three for a loss, two sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles. To quote Charles Daniels:
had them all out there steppin and fetchin
Like their heads was on fire and their asses was catchin
7. Players with five or more tackles. And four of them are front seven players. Hall had seven on his own. Sevens are good. It's also the number of times Arizona State punted in the first half.
8. Total tackles for Myles. That's fifteen tackles and six sacks from the starting defensive ends.
9. Sacks. Wow. Neat.
10. Punts by ASU. 10% touchdown return rate is acceptable.
33. Yards. Longest play from scrimmage given up. And the only one over 21 yards. This is going to take some getting used to but not all change is for the worst.
291. Yards. Again, that's how many yards we gave up in the entire game. That's like that one quarter Mizzou had last year. It's good. It's very good. Be happy, because the offense will eventually settle down and correct itself. The defense was the big unknown heading into this season.
Remember South Carolina from last season. Take it with a grain of salt because we have no idea how good Arizona State will end up being. But use this defensive performance as a measuring stick: we haven't had games like that against FCS schools in the past few years, let alone Pac-12 contenders. We're not a playoff team yet, but this is certainly more encouraging than last year's opener in the grand scheme of things because we know what the offense is capable of.
Let's have a great week. FOOTBALL IS FUN.