Updated Apr 30, 2013 - 10:25 am
Sun Devils a Pac-12 sleeper team? Why not?
In fact, they were picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12 South during media day last year.
Sure, everyone hoped they'd be better under new coach Todd Graham than they were with Dennis Erickson at the helm, but key losses (QB Brock Osweiler, WR Gerell Robinson, LB Vontaze Burfict) along with a new scheme led many to believe the Devils were still a couple years away from competing for a Pac-12 South title.
But the Devils won eight games in 2012 and are bringing back a host of returning starters in 2013, so the opinion of them has certainly changed.
In an ESPN Insider article that looks to identify 'sleeper' teams for 2013, the Sun Devils are named as one that could surprise in the Pac-12.
Why: Everybody's back. That includes defensive tackle Will Sutton, who was expected (by some) to skip his senior season. He led a surprisingly efficient ASU defense, which ranked second in the Pac-12 in yards per play against (4.78). Think about the way Stanford inched into the league race: by playing better defense than most of the conference. Why couldn't ASU be this season's version of Stanford?
Or perhaps ASU could rise in the South Division like UCLA did last season. The Sun Devils, with quarterback Taylor Kelly (8.4 yards per attempt, 29-9 TD-INT ratio), could steal votes from the Bruins for the preseason pick in the division.
Travis Haney, who is the author of the article, notes that ASU's schedule offers some pitfalls, including an Oct. 5 matchup with Notre Dame at Cowboys Stadium. But, ultimately, he struggled to find a reason why the Sun Devils will not have a good season.
Why not: Frankly, it's difficult coming up with a reason why ASU wouldn't rise this season. It's an experienced team in a division -- and conference -- that's relatively open.
What a difference a year makes.
Adam Green, Web Content Editor - ArizonaSports.com
- Fork Report: ASU rides 'Big Three' to season-opening blowout of Weber State
- ASU takes care of business in Opening Night rout of Weber State: By The Numbers
- Former Arizona State RB Marion Grice shines for Chargers in preseason finale
- Sun Devil Supplement: Notes from ASU's opener vs. Weber State
- Stagnant or statement
- Jeff Van Raaphorst, Sun Devil Football Color Analyst - Friday August 29Doug and Wolf talk to Sun Devil football color analyst Jeff Van Raaphorst.
- Doug Haller, AZCentral Sports - Thursday August 28Doug Haller predicts the Sun Devil offense won't play much after halftime of tonight's game.
- Bickley Blast - Thursday August 28Which Valley football team will win more games this season, the Cardinals or the Sun Devils?
- Larry Scott - Pac-12 commissioner - Wednesday August 27Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott believes the Pac-12 will continue to rise and get stronger.
- Ray Anderson - ASU athletic director - Wednesday August 27ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson prepares for his first ASU football season.