The Sun Devils (4-2, 2-1) suffocated the Buffaloes (2-3, 0-3) in all aspects of the game on Saturday night and improved to 4-0 at home this year. After a four game stretch that included the likes of Notre Dame and Stanford, playing Colorado was a welcomed sight for Arizona State.
“It was great for our team, building our confidence,” quarterback Taylor Kelly said. “We prepared very well this week and didn’t take Colorado lightly. We handled our business tonight.
“That four game stretch that we played week in and week out great opponents, I think we are a lot better team than we were last year at this point just facing that competition each week. Our team has grown mentally and maturity wise from those games. Big week this week and we have to put this one behind us and get to work on Washington tomorrow.”
Kelly set the tone early, connecting with wide out Jaelen Strong for a 69-yard touchdown pass just a minute and a half into the game. The Sun Devils scored on their next four drives to put the game out of reach with a little under a quarter to play in the first half.
“Coach wanted the football to begin with, receive the ball and go score right from the beginning and we did that,” Kelly said. “We just kept marching the ball down the field with our offense going.”
Kelly finished the night with 233 yards passing and two touchdowns on just nine completions. This game marked the first all year in which the Arizona State quarterback has not thrown for at least 300 yards. It should be mentioned, however, that he and the rest of the first team offense did not play a snap in the second half.
Senior running back Marion Grice scored twice on the ground tonight to extend his touchdown tally to 15 through six games. The Pac-12 record for touchdowns in a season is held by Stanford’s Toby Gerhart who scored 28 times in 2009. Grice has six more games to achieve that mark.
The much-maligned Arizona State defense responded well to the criticism and handled the Buffaloes’ offense. Carl Bradford spear headed the defense’s effort tonight and was in the backfield often, causing havoc for the Colorado offense. The junior linebacker finished the night with 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
“For me it was a big confidence booster,” Bradford said. “At the beginning of the year, I kind of slacked off on my sacks and stuff like that so this game I tried to come out and take full advantage of the opponent and I think I did that very well this game.
“Our guys were focused since Tuesday and we really came out and prepared and did film work. We knew we needed to step up and just play our key alignments and play Sun Devil defense.”
The first team only allowed six points on the night and held Colorado’s star receiver Paul Richardson to no catches in the first half and maybe more importantly, gave up a miniscule 28 yards rushing after two quarters of play.
“This game we really couldn’t play to their level,” Bradford said. “We had to go out there, play our game and play all four quarters, not swoop down to their level and really give it to them and step on their throat.”
This Sun Devil team continues to prove that they are a much different team at home as opposed to on the road. In the Todd Graham era, Arizona State is 8-2 at home and 3-5 on the road.
Obviously a home field advantage is a great thing to have, but in order to achieve the goals that this team wants to achieve, winning on the road is a must.
“I think we have got to be more focused on the road,” Kelly said. “Traveling, going on the airplanes, new environment for our team to experience and we are doing a better job of that, but the maturity level is a big thing for us.”
The Sun Devils will look to continue to take care of business at home against a talented Washington team that is coming off of two straight losses to ranked opponents.
“When we play out here, it’s our home; we don’t lose at home,” Bradford said.