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September 2, 2011Junior quarterback Brock Osweiler has taken snaps for Arizona State before. He's studied under offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone for two years, thrown touchdown passes and led the Sun Devils to comeback victories. However, never before has it been considered "Osweiler's team."
Thursday night he proved it now is, debuting successfully in his first career start at Sun Devil Stadium by completing 19 of his 26 passes for 252 yards. His 73 percent for the night was essentially on par with his performance throughout pre-season camp.
"It will be hard to determine until we break down the film tomorrow, but I thought at times we had a pretty good flow going, then we would have a turnover or a bad play and that would slow things down," Osweiler said. "Overall, for the first night, I was happy with it."
With a first half like the Sun Devils had, it's easy to understand why.
In ASU's first drive of the game the offense moved effortlessly with just three plays for 55 yards, concluding with a rushing touchdown by junior running back Cameron Marshall.
In just one minute and 12 seconds, ASU was on the board.
Marshall did not stop there. He scored the first and only two touchdowns in the first quarter, setting the offensive tone early for the Sun Devils. Overall, Marshall rushed for 23 yards on seven carries.
Including several receivers, six others were credited with rushes, with sophomore running back Kyle Middlebrooks leading the way with 10 carries for 63 yards.
There was just as much effort on the receivers' end. Twelve different players touched the ball for a total of 300 receiving yards.
After dropping one pass midway through the first quarter senior receiver Aaron Pflugrad was sure to connect with Osweiler not once, but twice in the end zone.
Throughout, Osweiler managed the game and his teammates well, with no clear mental mistakes and only a few errant passes, one of which was late to receiver Kevin Ozier ending in his lone interception.
It was a performance that, while coming against an outgunned foe, validated Osweiler's teammates' rare selection of him for captainship as a third year player.
Many could contend that Thursday night's game was well scripted and the outcome was as expected.
"Nothing against anybody but they are a [FCS] team," Erickson said. "That's just how it is, they have 65 scholarships, we have 85 scholarships. A game like this should be like that, all over the country."
However, the Sun Devils showcased their many weapons while maintaining consistency and structure under Mazzone's fast paced offense, committing just two procedural penalties on the night.
"We got plays in and out," Erickson said. "We were never to the point where we had too much time or anything like that with the substitutions. We were out there trying different formations and we have to do a good job at that. Particularly in the third or fourth quarter when you are trying to get guys in there it gets a little difficult. I was happy with that I thought the coaches did a good job."
With their ninth consecutive home opening win in the books, the Sun Devils now turn the page to their next opponent a week from Friday, where they face No. 21 Missouri, and the true test is at hand.
"We are going to have to look at tape real quick and start getting ready for Missouri. That's a key game for us." Erickson said.