TEMPE, Ariz. — The list is long.
From the breakdowns on special teams to the offensive inefficiency, Arizona State stumbled out of the gate, losing its season opener Saturday, 38-17 to Texas A&M in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff in Houston.
“Well, coming back and watching the video, really a little bit surprised at how undisciplined we played,” head coach Todd Graham said. “We had uncharacteristically a lot of really stupid penalties.”
The Sun Devils were penalized six times, including a roughing the punter call in the fourth quarter, the last in a string of special teams errors, the most glaring of which was the 79-yard punt return by Christian Kirk that put A&M ahead 14-0.
Offensively, ASU struggled to find any kind of rhythm.
The unit scored just once on their first 12 possessions, went 5-of-18 on third down and allowed nine sacks.
Only 291 yards of total offense was gained, while the Sun Devils failed to reach 20 points for only the third time in 41 games under Graham.
“Obviously, this game was a game that you find out exactly where you’re at,” the fourth-year head coach said.
The mistakes, though many, are all correctable, according to Graham. The correction process will begin immediately, first in meetings and then on the field.
ASU practiced Tuesday, putting the A&M game in the rear-view mirror.
“The one thing I would tell you about this game, when you play an opponent like that and you make mistakes, you get exposed. I really think, and I know that game was important because of how we’re going to start conference play. I really think I’d much rather be correcting the things and get it done now than have to be worrying about that when we get to conference play,” Graham said.
“Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. But the sky’s not falling. We will rise again, I assure you.”
Added redshirt senior quarterback Mike Bercovici, “That was one game. We’re not going to say that game was insignificant because it was. Obviously, it wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, but our sole focus right now is going to be Cal Poly, and it’s going to be exciting to see what we do Saturday night.”
Cal Poly is an FCS opponent that is coming off an upset road win at eighth-rated Montana on a last-second field goal, which boosted the Mustangs to a No. 20 ranking in this week’s FCS Coaches Poll.
ASU leads the all-time series 3-0, but the two teams have not played since 1947.
This is the first of back-to-back games at Sun Devil Stadium.
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 pm.
“Our goals are still right in front of us,” Bercovici said.
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