2014 Arizona State Sun Devils Team Preview
Arizona State Sun Devils
Head Coach: Todd Graham
2013-14 Record: 10-4, 8-1 Pac-12 Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: 37-23 loss to Texas Tech in Holiday Bowl
Odds to Win National Championship: +5287
Offense: 6, Defense: 2
Graham welcomes back signal-caller Taylor Kelly, who is virtually an offensive coordinator on the field entering his senior season in Tempe. He threw for 3,635 yards a season ago, but didn’t stretch opposing defenses as much.
Kelly was the program’s second-leading rusher a season ago, but he’ll want to stay in the pocket more to avoid injury, especially since the squad’s main offensive weapon from a year ago has landed in the NFL.
Junior wide receiver Jaelen Strong caught 75 passes for 1,122 yards and seven touchdowns, while fellow class member DJ Foster grabbed 63 passes out of the backfield.
The offensive line welcomes back 62 career starts, but the group will need to replace two key departures.
Four major contributors on the defensive line, which is one of the biggest question marks for an overall unit that welcomes back just two starters from a solid 2013-14 campaign.
Arizona State will only go as far as its secondary unit will take it this season, but that group is the least experienced in these parts in over six years of action.
The offense is going to score points, which is a good thing due to the punting game ranking 121st in the country with a horrendous 33.2-yard average.
Sophomore placekicker Zane Gonzalez is an absolute superstar at the position after breaking a school record by connecting on 18 consecutive field goals a season ago.
An early season measuring-stick game is found in hosting the UCLA Bruins in a Thursday night contest on Sept. 25, as the squad will likely come off an early-season bye with a 3-0 record in that affair.
Arizona State will then travel to USC before enjoying another week off before tackling Stanford and Washington. At that point in time—the direction of the season will have been decided.
It’s hard to imagine anything more than an eight-win season for this bunch, as many college football handicappers expect the Pac-12 Conference to rank just behind the Southeastern Conference in terms of overall strength.
Graham is certainly one of the best young head coaches in the national landscape, which is important to consider due to most of the roster being recruited by him as he enters his third year on campus.
Five conference road games likely means at least three losses in conference play and a mid-level bowl game at best.
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