Ahead of the UTSA game, the Devils in Detail’s coverage team for the 2016 football season took it upon themselves to collectively give some thoughts on the game.
After a historic performance last game, how will Kalen Ballage perform in this game?
Zach: The odds of back-to-back eight touchdown games is highly improbable. However, the UTSA Roadrunners are allowing an average of 182.5 yards on the ground in games this season as well 4.3 yards per carry. The backfield trio of Ballage, Demario Richard and Manny Wilkins for ASU averages 262 rushing yards per game headlined by an astounding 8.4 yards per rush from Ballage. The junior should be able to continue his hot start to the season against a leaky UTSA defense.
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Sam: The eight touchdown performance was impressive, especially in their “Sparky” formation. They ran that formation repeatedly inside the five yard line and Texas Tech didn’t have the answer. I don’t expect him to come close to scoring eight touchdowns this week. It’s still Demario Richard leading the running game with Ballage adding a power element. He will likely get a score or two, but I don’t expect a complete overhaul in ASU’s game plan after his historic game last week.
Hunter: I think we are all in agreement that Ballage won’t have another eight touchdown performance, but he should still perform well. It isn’t too much to expect him to have at least one touchdown riding off the momentum of last week’s performance. I do think that based off of last week’s performance we will see ASU going back to that “sparky” formation inside the red zone possibly a little more than they should, but until it is clear that defenses have figured out how to stop that formation, don’t expect much to change for Ballage’s role.
Who is the player on UTSA that ASU needs to watch out for?
Zach: The UTSA offense just hasn’t put up the numbers to catch my eye in any category. However, the kick returning tandem of Jordan Moore and Brett Winnegan will be something to watch Saturday night. The Roadrunners have only had four kick returns in 2016,however; Winnegan and Moore both average more than 27 yards per return. It may be a small sample size but both players have shown explosiveness in limited touches and the special teams defense is still a work in progress for the Sun Devils.
Sam: The player to watch on the Roadrunners is quarterback Dalton Sturm. UTSA is a pass-first offense as they average 261.5 passing yards a game while averaging only 80.5 yards a game. Sturm has been solid through the first two weeks of the season as he has a 72.9 completion percentage with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Sun Devils like the blitz a lot, but with UTSA a pass-first offense, they will have to be timely when it comes to blitzing.
Hunter: The player on the Roadrunners that ASU needs to have their eye on is DE Marcus Davenport. As a junior, he currently has nine career sacks and is on pace to break the school record of 14 career sacks by a player. Davenport is exactly what a defensive coordinator wants in a defensive end, strong and fast. He does a very good job of reacting quickly to the snap and beats his man to the outside simply by outrunning him and then pushing him to the side. While he does have certain games when he gets multiple sacks a game, he can be stopped. Colorado State shut him down last week, but with an offensive line that can be shaky at times, Manny Wilkins will need to make sure he keeps his eye out for Davenport.
Who comes out on top?
Zach: The Sun Devils take this one in blowout fashion, 48-20. While defense seemed optional against Texas Tech, ASU will be able to continue its offensive momentum while allowing fewer points. Wilkins looked very comfortable and poised in the pocket while the offensive line seems to be coming together quicker than expected. UTSA will have no answer for the Sun Devils offense.
Sam: Arizona State 38, UTSA 21. This game will be played at the Alamodome and the place will be rocking as this will be a massive home game for the Roadrunners. This could be seen as a letdown game after a statement win vs Texas Tech. Graham said after the game last week that it’s important for the team to stay grounded. I think ASU will start slow, but will pull away late as UTSA won’t be able to match Arizona State’s high-tempo offense. Hunter: I think that ASU will be up against a slightly better defense than last week, but they are far better than the Roadrunners’ offensive unit. ASU 31, UTSA 17. If the Sun Devils can continue to play well with Manny Wilkins at the helm then they will be looking at a 3-0 record to start conference play, with momentum on their side, and momentum is everything in college football.