If any team earned a glorified scrimmage to open the season, it would be Arizona State, which faces defending Big 10-champion Wisconsin, Pac-12 champion Stanford, USC and BCS title-game participant Notre Dame over the next month.
So the Sun Devils took advantage of their tune-up against overmatched Sacramento State, with all of their top prospects getting a moment to shine in a 55-0 thrashing Thursday.
Defensive tackle Will Sutton showed off his new bulked-up body, and still exploded into the backfield for a tackle for loss. The reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year came out of the game briefly in the first quarter after taking a shot to the side, but recovered a fumble on the first play after he returned.
Sutton finished with only two tackles, but it belied how dominant the redshirt senior really was in the game. The Hornets essentially abandoned any attempt at running between the tackles, with Sutton routinely drawing and shedding double-teams. If he can do the same next week against the Badgers' beefy offensive line, Sutton may well put to rest concerns about his lack of prototypical height compared to NFL defensive tackles.
On offense, quarterback Taylor Kelly matched a career high, throwing five touchdown passes -- all in the first half -- and zero interceptions, finding tight end Chris Coyle and running back Marion Grice for scores.
Grice and sophomore D.J. Foster again showed off their versatility, each taking turns lining up in the slot and showing great skill in the passing game. Grice went untouched on a post route for a 26-yard TD. His receiving ability is a perfect match for the spread-passing offenses that dominate the NFL and Grice shapes up as an intriguing potential three-down back.
The degree of difficulty goes up significantly over the next four weeks, but Arizona State made it look plenty easy in this one.