San Diego State hosted Arizona State Friday in an interdivisional CPL preseason match from which the Aztecs emerged 24-5 victors. The first half was packed with a lot of quality defense, as the score was stalemated at 0-0 until SDSU scored a breakaway try in the 37th minute, unconverted, to claim the 5-0 lead it’d take into halftime.
“I think the slowness in the beginning, in both cases, was just very good defense,” said SDSU coach Craig Hartley. “There wasn’t a lot of scoring, but a lot of really good tackling. From both sides it was played very well. Being the beginning of the year, I think we were also just getting the cobwebs out.”
The Aztecs separated from Arizona State in the second half, especially in the last 20 minutes, outscoring the Sun Devils 19-5. Both ASU coach Gary Lane and Hartley cited SDSU’s superior fitness as a main reason for separation.
“I definitely think that we went to a different level in that second half, and despite shooting ourselves in the foot on many occasions with turnovers, there was definitely a difference in the fitness level,” said Hartley, whose first game as SDSU head man was Friday.
“With my background, that was one of the things I spoke about with the guys. Coming in, I said, ‘We are going to be fit, and we’re going to strive to be the fittest team on the field,’ and that definitely showed off in that game. It looked like it changed to a different gear in our part in the second half.”
Friday was Arizona’s second preseason loss to a CPL foe, the first coming 25-24 to Arizona, but the Sun Devils have learned some valuable lessons early. “We needed to see where our weaknesses were and we did that,” said Lane. “SDSU showed us exactly where our weaknesses were.”
ASU Football converts Trevor Kohl and Chris Coyle did not make the trip to San Diego, but Lane says they're still very much in the fold moving forward. "It won't take them long to get fully integrated," he said. "But it wouldn't have been fair to them or the team to put them in there after one-and-a-half practices."
The Sun Devils return to Tempe for one more week of preseason camp starting Monday, as the Aztecs prepare for a monstrous matchup with BYU Saturday.