37-31 Sun Devils Win
Highlight reel touchdowns and an impressive yardage total on offense are definite positives, but the overall feel from ASU observers was one of concern, as the Sun Devils just couldn’t put away New Mexico State, who are projected to be one of the worst teams in the country. The final score is closer than the game really was, however, as ASU led by as much as 24 in the fourth quarter.
Great & Painful Day for Manny Wilkins
Wilkins looked great, completing 81% of his passes for 300 yards and two TDs, one 60 yards and the other 53. That excellent downfield day was marred by a shaky pocket, where Wilkins was under constant assault from Aggies’ defenders. They racked up 7 sacks on the night, a shocking total for a team that managed 11 total sacks in all of 2016. It’s remarkable that Wilkins was able to look so smooth and efficient, given the pressure he was under. It was a great day for him, but as the Sun Devils start to face tougher defenses, the offensive line is going to be a bigger problem.
The years-long downward spiral for Todd Graham’s aggressive defense appears set to continue, as ASU was outgained to the tune of 549 yards by what projects to be a helpless NMSU offense. A lot of this came late, but there is still cause for some serious concern. ASU will probably have a good offense, but not a great one. It’s going to be hard to win many games against conference competition if the Sun Devils can’t figure out how to play a little defense.
The Sun Devils host San Diego State next, who aren’t projected to be the truly dangerous Aztec squad of the last few years but are still a legitimate threat. Todd Graham has extra time to rest his guys, practice his defense, and see if he can fix what’s going on with that side of the ball.