Arizona State didn't show as much improvement from its opener to Game 2 as coach Dennis Erickson would have liked, but it wasn't a problem for junior receiver Mike Willie.
Willie took a major step forward, including reaching paydirt for the first time in his ASU career during his team's 41-20 win over Northern Arizona Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.
In his Sun Devil debut, Willie had two catches for 12 yards in the season opener against Portland State.
The Long Beach, Calif., native, who excelled at Cerritos College last season, exponentially improved on those numbers Saturday, with eight receptions for 114 yards and one touchdown.
"It slowed down a lot [from the first game]," said Willie. "At first it was kind of fast…first game, Pac-10, it was kind of everywhere so I had to focus I wasn't really nervous just thinking too much and when you think too much you don't play good so I got to where I didn't think just played."
Willie was the most reliable weapon in an otherwise spotty offensive performance by the Sun Devils.
"As good as we played I thought last week, we didn't play like that [tonight]," said Erickson. "We didn't improve from the first to the second game, like the old cliché… And there were some good efforts. I thought Michael Willie came to play and did some good things."
After getting his first game jitters out of the way, Willie appeared to have looked a lot more at ease with the offense, and was able to his get first career touchdown at ASU on a 6-yard pass in the end zone.
"Tonight was the night where I didn't have to worry about it being my first game, so I was kind of comfortable and so I could get to work and didn't have to worry about too many people, just go to work on my routes," said Willie.
Willie's longest catch was a 37-yard pass from quarterback Steven Threet in the first quarter, a key play in a drive that eventually ended with a Threet touchdown strike to Kerry Taylor.
Willie seemingly feels much better about his play, and could take the confidence booster from his performance Saturday into ASU's true early-season test in Wisconsin Saturday.
"We got the speed and we got the talent," Willie said. "We just got to bring it week by week everybody got to play good but its up to us how we approach it, we ready for Wisconsin we just got to strap down and get ready for the big teams."