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Things were going great for Todd Graham and Arizona State after a couple 10-win seasons, but that fell apart last year en route to a 6-7 record. The defense took a big step back as they had one of the worst pass defenses in the country. That showed in a 43-42 bowl loss to West Virginia. And now, the Sun Devils have to break in a completely new quarterback this season.
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That quarterback question will remain into the fall where a few guys are fighting for the job. However, none of them have any college experience. So while this offense usually produces a ton in the passing game, they'll likely take a step back without Mike Bercovici this season.
Another issue is that they lose four starters from last year's offensive line as well as top receiving targets. The line will be fresh, while Tim White (57 receptions, 633 yards, 8 TDs) will step in as the top receiver with Cameron Smith, who was hurt last year. The good news is that running backs Demario Richard (1,098 yards, 7 TDs) and Kalen Ballage (653 yards, 4 TDs) return and should see the ball a ton. But the question remains what the line is going to look like outside of left tackle Evan Goodman.
Defense is another issue, though, after they were torched in 2015. The Sun Devils were great at getting to the quarterback and producing sacks, but that often left holes in the secondary. And that secondary will be their first priority coming into this season with Laiu Moeakiola hoping to make a difference in a transition from linebacker to safety. The secondary lost three starters, but new faces aren't a bad thing for this group.
The front seven will at least have experience and talent to go around. The line has playmakers in JoJo Wicker at end and Tashon Smallwood at tackle, while linebacker is set with Salamo Fiso and Christian Sam. There are some pieces, but this is still a group that struggled to stop much last season.
The schedule opens up somewhat friendly, although a meeting with Texas Tech could see the secondary gashed much like they were a year ago. At the least, that game is at home, as is the Pac-12 opener against California. Without a win there, things could go downhill quickly for the Sun Devils as USC and UCLA are next on the schedule. To reach six wins again, they'll need to take down Colorado on the road or even Washington State at home. Getting a gauntlet to close the year won't help with three of their last four games coming on the road.
ASU's over/under is set at 6 wins (-150 for the under at 5Dimes) so not much is expected from this team this year. With a new quarterback and offensive line, there's no reason to believe they'll surpass six. Getting to three or four conference wins will definitely be tough, though.
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2016 Arizona State Sun Devils Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Northern Arizona
Sept. 10 vs. Texas Tech
Sept. 16 at UTSA
Sept. 24 vs. California
Oct. 1 at USC
Oct. 8 vs. UCLA
Oct. 15 at Colorado
Oct. 22 vs. Washington State
Oct. 29 at Oregon
Nov. 10 vs. Utah
Nov. 19 at Washington
Nov. 25 at Arizona
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