Editor's note: This story is by Danielle McNally, a member of The Sporting Nation managing editor Jose Romero's Intermediate Reporting class at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Communication.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- After a crushing season opening loss at Texas A&M, the Arizona State Sun Devils responded with a narrow victory against the Cal Poly Mustangs in their first home game of the season Saturday night.
In their first game at the newly revamped Sun Devil Stadium, the Sun Devils came back strong late in the second half to defeat heavy underdog Cal Poly 35-21.
At the post game press conference, Coach Todd Graham commented on the adjustments made at halftime that allowed the Sun Devils to respond in order to get a victory.
“It’s a win, and I will take all of the ugly wins we can get,” Coach Todd Graham said.
Going into Saturday’s game, Graham and his team knew that the obstacles they would face playing Cal Poly would be difficult to overcome, and were ultimately unable to adequately prepare for an overwhelming win.
“I don’t vote for (playing triple option) ever again,” Graham said. “I wish they would outlaw (cut blocks).”
Four players from ASU left the game with injuries due to the excessive use of cut blocking by Cal Poly.
After their loss against Texas A&M, the Sun Devils looked to improve their offense, placing offensive coordinator Mike Norvell high up in the press box to call plays.
“I would love to get out of all of the distractions on the sidelines,” Graham said. “Just be able to sit up there and call the play.”
The move seemed to help ASU come back offensively in this game, and Coach Graham plans to keep him up there for the time being.
Graham expressed that the underwhelming defeat was not caused by the players but by some of the interpretations of those plays.
“We have guys that are very capable athletically, but are just making some mental errors in critical situations,” Graham said.
Graham referred to the second quarter as “chaotic” and many fans were shocked to see the game so close going into halftime.
On the opening drive of the second half, Cal Poly scored to tie the game 21-21, and the score remained tied heading into the fourth quarter.
The Sun Devils came back strong towards the end of the fourth, scoring two touchdowns to win the game.
Quarterback Mike Bercovici said they are excited to get back out on the field to play against New Mexico this Friday with a new defensive plan.
“We are going to play defensive football,” Bercovici said. “We are going to score points, kick field goals, and that’s all we can control.”
Bercovici spoke highly of his team and players but also stressed the importance to keep working for next week’s game.
“A win is a win, we are excited to move on and get Sun Devil Nation another win Friday night versus New Mexico,” Bercovici said.
Defensive back Jordan Simone commented on the severe physicality of the game of football and expressed his thoughts about next week’s game.
“We are excited to get back to work and we are looking forward to another week of practice and another game, and we are only going to get better,” Simone said.
Along with the win came the unveiling of the new renovations to the Sun Devil Stadium, including dual “Inferno” student sections.
Bercovici and Graham both spoke about the vibrant atmosphere the student sections brought to the game.
“I have never seen a more electric stadium in my entire life,” Bercovici said.
Although the game did not bring the dominant victory that many fans were anticipating, the Sun Devils were still able to respond with a win.
“All that matters is that you’re 1-0,” Graham said.
Technically, the Devils are 1-1.