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September 5, 2010Steven Threet strolled into his first Arizona State post-game press conference wearing a maroon and gold headband, white t-shirt and an air of confidence.
Known to his coaches as a high-energy -- some, including offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone would say high-strung -- player, the junior quarterback carried more than just a sports drink into the Dutson Theater late Saturday night.
Threet also brought presence into the room; the kind of presence vaguely reminiscent of former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, he of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears.
Three weeks earlier, Threet had his trademark boundless energy, but lacked the command needed to transition it into true leadership. He looked out of sorts and in dire need of a strong finish to August's practice schedule if he hoped to be the Sun Devils' opening game starter.
Saturday, Threet looked like a player who won't easily relinquish that position for the next two seasons. He completed 14 of 21 pass attempts for 239 yards and two touchdowns in the Sun Devils' 54-9 win over Portland State, with five of his incompletions perfectly thrown passes that were dropped -- two by junior T.J. Simpson, one by junior George Bell, one by junior Aaron Pflugrad and one by junior Mike Willie.
In other words, Threet had a pretty-near perfect evening in his first Sun Devil Stadium outing, and in doing so broke a school record for most passing yards by a quarterback in his first appearance.
A lone mistake was the pass he had intercepted, but even that was directly at its intended target and more the product of an impressive defensive play to tip the ball into the air with an outstretched arm than a true miscalculation.
"I think we dropped four or five balls on him early in the game," said ASU coach Dennis Erickson "I thought he played well, got rid of the football and threw it where he was supposed to throw it. He didn't make any mistakes. He forced one in there a little bit on that interception but the guy has been around and he was cool out there, got the plays in. I thought he had a great night but he just has to continue to improve like the rest of us. If he does that then we have a chance to have a good year. "
ASU fans, and perhaps even Threet were collectively saying, "Oh no, not again," when the Sun Devils dropped three balls and had a penalty to open the game, but it would be the worst they'd look on any possession all night.
"We knew we just had to bounce back from it," Threet said. "We went three and out, we had an incompletion, a false start and another incompletion. It's not a great way to start out a drive. Going three and out, we just knew we had to put it together and we'd be fine."
Threet was more than that, he was borderline excellent. He managed the offense extremely well and was laser accurate. After sitting out a year post-transfer from Michigan, and struggling to secure the starting job in camp, nobody really knew what to expect going in.
But now they do.
"Pressure didn't necessarily mount, I was just anxious to get on the field," Threet said. "It's been a long time since I've been able to play in a game. It was just a lot of fun to get back out with the guys and have a chance to compete and have it count."