TEMPE, AZ - Arizona State lost most of its starting defense, including two players now in the NFL.
The young Sun Devils taking their places have some talent and looked good in fall camp, but now it's time to see what they can do under the pressure of a real game.
Even their coach is anxious to see how they respond when 19th-ranked Arizona State opens its season Thursday night against Weber State.
Check out what to watch for in the Thursday game:
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Arizona State has lots of new players on defense, so facing the lower-tier Wildcats should be a nice way to get in some game action without too much stress. Weber State went 2-10 last season, including 1-7 in the Big Sky Conference, and will be playing its first game under new coach Jay Hill.
Weber State's offensive line against ASU's pressure. The Wildcats will likely try a lot of quick-hitting passes to keep the Sun Devils from harassing QB Billy Green. Sacramento State had a little success with it against Arizona State last season before the Sun Devils rolled to a rout.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Weber State: Green. The former BYU quarterback won a tight competition with sophomore Jadrian Clark. Highly recruited out of Washington state in high school, the sophomore played mainly on BYU's scout team, seeing action in one game.
Arizona State: WR Jaelen Strong. The big, athletic receiver had a solid first season in the desert, catching 75 passes for 1,122 yards and seven TDs despite arriving late after transferring. He knows the offense better and has a great connection with QB Taylor Kelly, particularly on back-shoulder throws. Don't be surprised if he has an even more productive season.
FACTS & FIGURES
Arizona State has forced a turnover in 29 straight games, second-longest-streak in the FBS. ... Hill spent 13 seasons as an assistant coach under three coaches at Utah before being named Weber State's head coach. ... Kelly has averaged 270.8 total yards during his career, on pace to crush the school record of 216.9 by Rudy Carpenter. ... The Wildcats will be playing their fifth game against one of the power five conferences and fourth against a ranked FBS team.