Graham proud of week one, gives initial thoughts on Illinois

Arizona Sports News online

It was a picture perfect start to the Todd Graham at ASU last Thursday in their 63-6 win over NAU to start the 2012 season.

It was so good that Graham had a hard time finding any faults to their game except for very minor things. One example of minor thing was on one of the many touchdowns the Sun Devils had, the player who scored did not give the referee the ball. Other then that, not many mistakes.

“I’m very very proud of our players just how they prepared, said Graham at his weekly Monday press conference. “I challenge them this week to work as hard as they did week one.”

All was almost perfect in game one. But not all is still perfect as a team going forward which Graham mentions that here is one thing keeping him up at night about this team.

“Depth,” Graham said. “There is a huge drop off right now between the one’s and two’s. And that’s where the coaching job is going to come in with our two’s.”

So now the Sun Devils turn to a familiar foe from a season ago.

The University of Illinois Fighting Illini travel to Tempe for week two looking to make it two straight against the Devils. Last year was a strong defensive battle between the two teams in which ASU fell in Champaign 17-14. And defensive in this game will be at the forefront once again as Illinois brings a very tough defensive personnel to town.

“They Are very very physical and a type of defense that can cause you a lot of problems,” explained Graham. “They caused six fumbles and three interceptions last week so obviously we will find out where we’re at.”

Even though only a year separates these two teams meeting. There will be a lot of change in how both of these two teams look to one another. Illinois has an entire new coaching staff as well led by head coach Tim Beckman who spent the previous three seasons as the head coach at Toledo.

Since all the Devils can do is look at the personnel of last year’s matchup and not their scheme’s, they still know what they will need to do themselves to be in the best position to win.

“The key is for us is don’t beat yourself,” Graham added. “That’s the key in these early games. So we are very very single-mindedly focused on own the ball, no stupid penalties.”

ASU will prepare all week in Tempe leading up to their matchup with Illinois at 7:30 pm at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday.


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