The Arizona State Sun Devils absolutely demolished their neighbors to the north, the Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks on Thursday night, winning by a 63-6 count. But that’s not the story.
The Devils did exactly what was expected of them. They hosted an FCS school, that was being paid handsomely to attend, and put the hurt on them. In Week one of the college football season, that’s what is typically expected of you. But the win goes beyond just what went down in the box score.
This is a program that saw a major overhaul this spring and summer. Gone is Dennis Erickson and his apathetic ways, which cost this team more than a few wins over the past few seasons. In his place is Todd Graham, and the results have been terrific for the Sun Devils so far.
No matter what you think of Graham and the way he left Pittsburgh, which wasn’t exactly honorable, there’s no doubt he’s already had a positive impact in Tempe. He’s taken a team where the players were running the program, and has completely turned that mentality around.
Look no further than the team on the field on Thursday for proof that this team is coming to compete on a weekly basis, even if this team isn’t that strong on paper.
The Sun Devils dominated defensively. They rushed for over 250 yards on the night. Though they weren’t without penalties entirely, this wasn’t the type of game fans of Arizona State were used to, as the team was disciplined and didn’t come with the boneheaded penalties of the Erickson teams of recent years.
At the end of the day, yes it’s a win over Northern Arizona. It was expected. But fans of the Arizona State Sun Devils have to be pleased with what they’ve seen from Graham not just on Thursday, but the past few months overall.
The Sun Devils may not compete for the Pac 12 crown this season, or even next season. But this is going to be a team that is going to come to play every week and play a disciplined game. They’re going to be a touch team to play against this season, and that’s a breath of fresh air for this program.