The game was out of hand quickly for the Roadrunners - before two minutes were off the game clock UTSA was down two touchdowns. The new-look offense couldn’t find a way to piece together a sustained drive after suffering through early blunders and couldn’t provide the veteran-led defense any relief.
Arizona State managed to leap in front on their opening series despite a delay of game penalty starting their offensive campaign. On third and three, quarterback Manny Wilkins hit N’Keal Harry for a streaking 58-yard grab, and that was about all she wrote.
UTSA answered on offense with a pick-six on starting quarterback Cordale Grundy’s first attempt. 14-0 ASU.
As telling as that beginning sequence would be of the outcome, UTSA actually had a brief window of controlled football coming off the interception. The defense forced two three-and-outs and the offense sustained two 10-play drives.
UTSA’s offensive line was doing a decent job of holding blocks for Grundy, who managed long completions to running back Jalen Rhodes and freshman wide receiver Tariq Woolen. Grundy also extended some plays with his legs, finding the first down marker a couple of times. As the Roadrunners were closing in on making it a one-possession contest, ASU defensive end Darius Slade blasted through UTSA running back BJ Daniels’ block to force and recover a fumble from Grundy.
UTSA head coach Frank Wilson has shown indecision with his quarterbacks before, and before the first half was over Grundy was pulled. Aside from his opening interception, Grundy’s play was extremely solid. He was making the right reads, getting rid of the ball when he needed to, and taking his chances for the first down without being overly risky. Wilson’s move to pull him seemed rather premature.
Results didn’t change under the command of DJ Gillins. After three consecutive three-and-outs, Grundy was cycled back in and UTSA at that point was just trying to foster some level of organization.
The Roadrunners were outmatched to a degree, but Wilkins and Harry ran wild over them. The pair connected six times throughout the evening for 140 yards, two touchdowns, and maybe UTSA’s worst display of tackling ever.
Arizona State WR N'Keal Harry dodged tackles from almost the entire UTSA defense to score a TD ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/NoaWec0ICR— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 2, 2018
Although UTSA’s defense held themselves respectfully, they were on the field just entirely too much to hold the Sun Devils. After forcing a stop it seemed as if they were instantly thrust back on.
Linebacker extraordinaire Josiah Tauaefa was all over each play as fans remember from his freshman season. He appears to be at full health and should have a special season; he led the defense last night with 10 total tackles (eight solo). Unfortunately, there was a rather gaping hole at the Will linebacker spot beside Tauaefa, where ASU took a lot of advantage.
UTSA’s cornerbacks weren’t anticipated to hang with the likes of Harry, so Harry’s gaudy statistics didn’t come as a big surprise. The defensive line held strong and the edge pressure appeared decent despite the box score showing zero sacks or quarterback hurries.
All in all, the game was over before the first quarter. The manner in which UTSA was picked a part was much uglier than anticipated. Granted, 13 of UTSA’s starters were seeing action for the first time, and they were on a nationally televised evening game in the Pac 12.
Sure, they were spooked. But Wilson has got to hold more ground in his decisions this third year. Fans have to be concerned with the lack of readiness from the team, yes, but should be very concerned with the staff not sticking through a process for a single half of football.
The Roadrunners return home for Operation Defend the Dome next Saturday versus Baylor, and things won’t be any easier. We'll see how Frank adjusts.