2013 Arizona State Sun Devils Football Preview
Arizona State Sun Devils
Head Coach: Todd Graham
2012 Record: 8-5 overall, 5-4 Pac 12 South
2012 Bowl Result: Beat Navy 62-28 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
2013 Returning Starters: 7 offense, 8 defense
Odds to win 2014 BCS Championship: 200/1
Odds to Win 2013 Pac 12 Championship Game: 11/1
Odds to win 2013 Pac 12 South Division: +305
Regular Season Wins: under 8 -150 / over 8 +120
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Last season, Arizona St started off the season 5-1 with only a narrow loss at Missouri in the mix. But those wins came against Northern Arizona, Illinois, Utah, Cal, and Colorado. Not counting FCS Northern Arizona, the rest combined for 12 wins last year. The schedule became immensely tougher after that as the Sun Devils went on a 4 game losing streak against Oregon, UCLA, Oregon St, and USC. The Sun Devils would rebound by routing another Pac 12 bottom feeder in Washington St, and then won at rival Arizona to close out the season. ASU would torpedo Navy 62-28 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Navy and Arizona were the only two teams ASU beat who had a winning records.
Arizona St is in the second year under head coach Todd Graham, and has high hopes in the wide open Pac 12 South. The Sun Devils return 15 starters from last year.
Offensive coordinator Mike Norvell ran Graham’s spread offense last year, and the Sun Devils averaged 38 points a game and 464 yards per game. ASU was pretty balanced as they were in the top 45 nationally in both rushing and passing yards.
Junior quarterback Taylor Kelly was ninth nationally in passing efficiency last season. He completed 67.1% of his passes for 3,039 yards with 29 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Kelly also was the third leading rusher for the Sun Devils with 134 carries, 516 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked a lot though and that could be a concern if he takes more hits like that this year. Sophomores Michael Eubank and Mike Bercovici will compete for the back-up. Eubank competed with Kelly for the starting job last year, and completed 34 of 54 passes for 330 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also rushed for 223 yards and 4 touchdowns. Eubank could see some snaps in short yardage situations because he is a strong runner. Bercovici redshirted last year but was the back-up to Brock Osweiler in 2011.
Gone is running back Cameron Marshall. He had 135 carries, 583 yards, and 9 touchdowns, along with 13 catches. The Sun Devils didn’t have a feature back as four players including Kelly had over 100 carries. Senior Marion Grice was the leading rusher last year with 103 carries, 679 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 41 catches, 425 yards and 8 touchdowns. Sophomore D.J. Foster had 102 carries, 493 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 38 catches, 533 yards and four touchdowns. Junior Deantre Lewis will also get some carries after missing all of last year as he recovered from a gunshot wound. The biggest problem might be short yardage, but 6-0, 232 pound back Terrell Davis could answer the call.
Senior H back Chris Coyle returns after making 57 catches, 696 yards, and 5 touchdowns last year. ASU does lose Rashad Ross and Jamal Miles who both had 37 catches last year. Kevin Ozier will start at the X receiver after making 21 catches, 324 and 5 touchdowns last year. Sophomore Z receiver Richard Smith had 14 catches, 141 yards and 2 scores last year. Sophomore Gary Chambers will start at the Y receiver, but he didn’t catch a pass last year. ASU rarely uses a traditional tight end, but Darwin Rogers will get a few targets. Senior Alonzo Agwuenu caught 11 passes and a touchdown last year. JUCO transfer Jaelen Strong and true freshmen Ellis Jefferson and Cameron Smith add much needed depth to the unit.
The line struggled to protect Kelly and consistently open up holes for the running game. The line returns 3 starters and looks to improve from last year. Senior left tackle Evan Finkenberg anchors the line. Sil Ajawara tried out at right tackle but was more comfortable at left guard. Jamil Douglas moves from left guard to right tackle. Vi Teofilo will start at right guard. Center Kody Koebensky has started 29 games in his career. Evan Goodman and Mo Latu are the key back-ups. Former 5 star recruit Christian Westerman transferred from Auburn, and is trying to become eligible this year, but will likely have to wait until 2014.
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Defensive coordinator Paul Randolph used a lot of different looks and formations last year. It worked as Arizona St had the second ranked defense in the Pac 12 last year. However, they did struggle against teams that ran the ball well. The Oregon and LA schools as well as rival Arizona all put up at least 34 points and rushed for at least 157 yards against the Sun Devils.
Senior defensive tackle Will Sutton decided to come back for one more year in Tempe, despite the prospect of being a high NFL draft pick. He had 63 tackles, including 23.5 for loss, 13 sacks, five pass blocks, and 3 forced fumbles. Junior Carl Bradford will play the “Devil” Position, a linebacker/end hybrid. Last year he had 81 tackles, 20.5 for loss, 11.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Sophomore Jaxon Hood will start at the other tackle next to Sutton. Hood had 3 sacks last year. Gannon Conway, Davon Coleman, and Junior Onyeali will rotate at the other end.
Linebacker Chris Young plays the “Spur” a combination linebacker and strong safety. He had 82 tackles, 14 for loss, along with 2 sacks and 5 pass break-ups. Senior Steffon Martin will start on the strongside after making 27 tackles last year. Grandville Taylor will be the weakside linebacker. Anthony Jones will come off the bench for Young.
The secondary must replace cornerback Deveron Carr who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Osahon Irabor has started 33 straight games at cornerback and defended 14 passes with an interception and made 37 tackles. He was not flagged for Pass Interference once last season. Robert Nelson will start at the other corner after making 3 picks last year. Alden Darby will start at safety after making 80 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. Laiu Moeakiola will start at the other safety. He started 4 games last year before being sidelined with an injury. Rashad Wadood, Ezekial Bishop and Lloyd Carrington will also see time in the rotation.
Arizona St opens with Sacramento St at home. Then they face a brutal stretch of four games, home against Wisconsin, at Stanford, home against USC, and against Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas. Three of those teams played in BCS games last year, and USC wasn’t one of them. The schedule loosens up in the second half with home games against Colorado and Washington, and trips to Washington St and Utah. Oregon St comes to Tempe, before ASU travels to UCLA. The Sun Devils close the season at home against Arizona.
The Sun Devils are set at quarterback and running back, but have questions at receiver and on the line. If the kids can gel, then Arizona St has a chance to win the Pac 12 South Division. ASU could very easily be 1-4 by the end of September, and 0-2 in conference play. I think 8 wins is a realistic goal for this squad.
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