Arizona State overwhelms Northern Arizona 63-6

Associated Press Modified: August 31, 2012 at 2:34 am •  Published: August 31, 2012
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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — As Todd Graham started to rehash his first game as Arizona State's coach, his mouth was moving, but no one could hear what he was saying.

That technical mishap with a postgame microphone was about the only thing that went wrong in Graham's desert debut.

Marion Grice ran for three touchdowns, Taylor Kelly was efficient in his first start and Arizona State opened the Graham era with a 63-6 rout over Northern Arizona Thursday night.

"They were obviously overmatched, and we dominated a team we should dominate, but still we played well," Graham said after his 50th career win. "I'm really proud of how our guys prepared and played."

Playing the up-tempo style Graham has preached since he arrived in Tempe, the Sun Devils overwhelmed Northern Arizona from the opening kickoff, forcing three turnovers and running for five touchdowns while building a 42-0 halftime lead.

Kelly, Arizona State's fourth quarterback in as many years, looked as he'd been under center all along, throwing for 247 yards and a touchdown.

Cameron Marshall had two of Arizona State's seven rushing touchdowns, both in the first quarter, and the Sun Devils ran for 305 yards, their most since 2001.

Arizona State had 554 total yards while scoring its most points in seven years and was just as dominant defensively, knocking out Northern Arizona's quarterback and leading rusher in the first half.

There were some typical first-game miscues — a lost fumble by Marshall, a couple of defensive breakdowns in the second half — but there wasn't much for the Sun Devils to complain about.

"When everybody was watching us, we showed up," Arizona State safety Alden Darby said.

It was a nice start for Graham, who wasn't the most popular choice to lead Arizona State after Dennis Erickson was fired.

The high-octane Texan has been a winner nearly everywhere he has gone, but has a penchant for not sticking around, including a one-year stint at Pittsburgh before moving on to ASU.

Graham soothed concerns about his commitment with an all-out charm blitz, shaking hands and speaking with as many ASU and supporters as he could. He gave the entire program a makeover, from the style of play to the look of the football offices.

Graham also infused Arizona State with a much-needed jolt of discipline, turning what had been a freewheeling program into a yes-sir, no-sir operation. He stuck to his my-way-or-don't-play guns for the opener, sitting top receiver Jamal Miles and running back James Morrison for "not meeting a team standard."

Graham's grand plan has created a buzz in the desert, giving the Sun Devils a profile they haven't had in a while.

All that was left to do was win games.

Facing NAU figured to be an easy start, even without Miles.

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