At a press conference following the Arizona State football team’s 50-3 drubbing of Idaho State at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday night, Brandon Magee and Mike Nixon debated, of all things, their baseball skills.
Nixon, a former minor league player, was confident he could devise a strategy to strike out Magee, a two-way player at Arizona State and a former MLB draft pick.
Why the off-topic chatter? Their performance on the gridiron spoke for itself.
Nixon had three interceptions, one of which he returned for a score, and had a blocked punt, while Magee had an interception, five tackles and a sack to lead a dominant Arizona State defense.
The linebackers roomed together before the game, and Magee had a dream that one of them would get an interception in the contest.
"I said one of us was going to get picks, and we (both) got picks," Magee said. "I’m happy."
Nixon’s second interception came with 2:12 remaining in the first half, and he returned it 34 yards to give Arizona State a comfortable 20-0 lead.
The three interceptions are the most by a Sun Devil since Nathan LaDuke had three against Houston on Sept. 23, 1989.
"Maybe we should play him at receiver," quarterback Danny Sullivan said. "He’s got great hands."
BURFICT LIVES UP TO HYPE
There was plenty of nervousness in Arizona State football circles waiting on word of Vontaze Burfict’s academic eligibility.
Now that he’s cleared, that fear looks like it will be transferred to opposing quarterbacks.
Although he only played defense for the second half, the true freshman linebacker out of Corona (Centennial), Calif., made his presence known with five tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Burfict saw his first action on defense with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
On his second play, Burfict almost had a sack. On his third, he recovered a fumble that was caused by Dexter Davis.
Burfict later had a bone-crushing sack on Idaho State quarterback Russel Hill.
"He’s a good player," coach Dennis Erickson said. "As soon as he learns what he’s doing he’s going to be outstanding."
Other true freshmen getting their first taste of collegiate action were defensive tackle Will Sutton, who started in place of the injured Lawrence Guy, defensive tackle Corey Adams, running back Cameron Marshall and quarterback Brock Osweiler.
Osweiler finished 4-for-5 passing for 43 yards and a laser of a touchdown to Brian Matsumoto between two defensive backs.
"That was a big-time throw," Erickson said.
JUST FOR KICKS
Thomas Weber tied an Arizona State record by making five field goals.
He was successful on attempts from 24, 22, 27, 26 and 29 yards, while missing a 37-yard attempt.
Idaho State kicker Jarrett Huck hit a 54-yarder, which tied for eighth-longest in school history and was the only score of the game for the Bengals.
Junior Trevor Hankins did the punting for Arizona State instead of Weber. Hankins averaged 34.5 yards on two punts.