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Arizona State

College Football

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The talk surrounding Arizona State is on new head coach Herm Edwards, but this is still a team that went 7-6 last year with a 6-3 record in Pac-12 play. The Sun Devils return their quarterback and enough talent offensively to upset some bigger teams, similar to last season. The question is what the new coaching staff can do. Offensive coordinator Rob Likens moves up from WRs coach and passing coordinator so the offense shouldn’t change much. It’s a different situation on defense, which is a good thing, with Danny Gonzales, who comes over from San Diego State. Either way, they aren’t expected to do much with an over/under of 4.5 wins (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) placing them above only the weakest teams in the conference and only above Colorado in the Pac-12 South.

Returning quarterback Manny Wilkins (7.89 yards per attempt, 17 TDs, 5 INTs, 6 rushing TDs) is the reason the offense can be better after scoring 31.9 points per game. There are enough tools around Wilkins to improve on those numbers, mainly because the line returns four starters and get a couple grad transfers from bigger schools to help out. Even with new running backs, the ground game could be better as long as Eno Benjamin and Trelon Smith can take up bigger roles after combining for 19 carries in 2017. The passing attack should again be dynamic with N’Keal Harry (73 receptions, 1,000 yards, 7 TDs) and Kyle Williams (59 receptions, 6 TDs) still catching passes. Interesting enough, Harry actually had early Heisman odds at +15000.

The defense can only take a step up under Gonzales after allowing close to 270 passing yards and 31.3 points per game. This defense has often struggled in the past, but Edwards plans to turn that around and he gets to work with a lot of new players, which should be a good thing. The hope is for the secondary to get a boost with experience at corner in sophomore Chase Lucas and junior Kobe Williams, although safety is an unknown. The line has to find new players to get to the quarterback with most of those guys gone and the same can be said about linebacker where senior Jay Jay Wilson is suddenly the best guy in the unit. From underclassmen to JUCO transfers, it’s likely there will be some young faces in this defense. The only good part is that the defense can’t be much worse than it was.

It doesn’t help the Sun Devils that the opening schedule is extremely difficult from the home game against Michigan State to trips to SDSU and Washington. There’s a decent chance Edwards starts his ASU career with a 1-3 record. From there, the schedule opens up, but only for a couple games before hosting Stanford and then traveling to USC. Reaching a bowl game won’t be an easy task for Arizona State given the schedule, but if Wilkins and the offense can take another leap, that should lead to an upset or two, namely the home games against Utah and UCLA. The Sun Devils will be around the six-win mark, but it won’t come easy, especially if the defense remains a problem.


2018 Arizona State Sun Devils Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. UTSA

Sept. 8 vs. Michigan State

Sept. 15 at San Diego State

Sept. 22 at Washington

Sept. 29 vs. Oregon State

Oct. 6 at Colorado

Oct. 18 vs. Stanford

Oct. 27 at USC

Nov. 3 vs. Utah

Nov. 10 vs. UCLA

Nov. 17 at Oregon

Nov. 24 at Arizona

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