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ASU’s Danny Gonzales, Sun Devils continuing to strive for perfection

Defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales of the Arizona State Sun Devils looks on during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Sun Devil Stadium on October 18, 2018 in Tempe, Arizona. Stanford won 20-13. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

TEMPE, Ariz. — Just because the Sun Devils have a win under their belt doesn’t mean Arizona State is easing off the gas pedal.

While beating Kent State 30-7 in the season opener gives the team an early confidence boost, there are still things to clean up.

For Danny Gonzales and the defense, seven main points of emphasis stick out the most.

“We’re still a work in progress, a great work,” Gonzales said after practice on Tuesday. “I refuse to give in, I demand that those guys to practice to be perfect. I demand them to play at a high level, higher than they think they can. And when I see we give up things that I think should be defended, it drives me crazy. They shouldn’t have scored.”

In Thursday night’s victory over the Golden Flashes, the Sun Devils had the upper hand throughout most of the contest, moving the ball offensively and stopping Kent State’s attack on defense.

The Golden Flashes, who run a spread offense, were limited to 87 yards at halftime, with -1 yards passing. ASU’s defense was stout, living up to the expectation it’s set on itself.

Deeper into the game, however, the Sun Devils began to falter

“We’ve got to continue that dominance if we want to be what we talk about, and we didn’t. We gave in,” Gonzales said.

After being unable to get much of anything going, Kent State finally broke through ASU’s defenses in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Going down the field 67 yards in eight plays, the Golden Flashes found pay dirt, scoring on a 21-yard pass play.

Looking back at the tape, Gonzales counted 16 missed tackles from his unit, resulting in 90 yards for the other side. Kent State totaled 200 yards on offense Thursday night.

But it’s the first game of the season, the first real live action for most of the players on the field. Those mistakes are fixable.

“I thought we got tired, we didn’t finish right,” Gonzales said. “For the first 47 plays we were flying our tails off and then we got a little tired. … We’re not out of shape. We’re not game ready for what my expectation is.

“I refuse to justify success with mediocrity,” Gonzales added. “I won’t give in. You can justify all the success you want by saying ‘yeah, they did pretty good.’ That’s a loser’s mentality. And I refuse.”

Next up on the docket for ASU is Sacramento State. With the added confidence that comes with winning, Friday night’s matchup is going to say a lot about the type of team the Sun Devils are and hope to become.

“A good football team? They make their improvement between Week 1 and 2,” Gonzales said. “If you’re going to be a good football team, [between Weeks] one and two, you better see drastic improvement. And then the rest of the season takes over, you’re going to get a little more nicked up and bruised and get a little more comfortable.

“And they’ve been a lot better this week, so we should see drastic improvement on [Friday].”

The Hornets provide the latest test for the Sun Devils after absolutely destroying Southern Oregon 77-19.

Junior quarterback Kevin Thomson was a force against the Raiders defense, throwing for 303 yards an four touchdowns on 14-of-20 passing, while adding another 90 yards and a score on four carries.

“I don’t want to sound negative because we won, and the most important thing is to hold them to one less point and we did,” Gonzales said. “So now we’ve got a heck of a challenge this week because (Sacramento State) is coming in here with a new coaching staff, coach Taylor has done a phenomenal job with his program … Shoot, you score 77 points, you’ve got to execute against anybody to do that.

“We better get our kids ready to the expectation,” Gonzales added. “And it doesn’t matter who you play, … they’ve got to come in with the mindset to dominant who’s ever in front of them. Our opponents should be faceless to them. We’ve got to get prepared and just go in there with the idea that we’re going to freaking annihilate them, and that’s the mentality we want around here.”


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