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USA Today’s Myerberg ‘bullish’ on Arizona football, not on ASU

(AP photos)

A college football program bringing in a new head coach does not always include a dearth of high expectations with it, even when that team is coming off a mediocre-at-best season.

First-year Arizona Wildcats head coach Kevin Sumlin enters a relatively stable situation. He has experience leading spread offenses like the outgoing head coach, the fired Rich Rodriguez. The returning talent of quarterback Khalil Tate, plus 2017’s best running back (J.J. Taylor) and wide receiver (Shun Brown) should make the Wildcats an explosive offensive team.

Defensively, Arizona flashed talent last season with an experienced group and should only take steps forward with defensive coordinator Marcel Yates keeping his job and giving the team continuity.

USA Today’s Paul Myerberg believes there’s enough there to make Sumlin’s Wildcats competitive and maybe more. In Myerberg’s ranking of 130 college football teams after their springs came to a close, the writer ranked Arizona 32nd in the nation.

“I might be a little too bullish on Arizona’s shot in the Pac-12 Conference South Division under Kevin Sumlin,” Myerberg admitted.

Nonetheless, it’s a drastic take compared to his expectations of the Wildcats’ rivals, the Arizona State Sun Devils, whom the USA Today writer ranks just 85th in the exercise.

“All eyes will be on Herm Edwards and Arizona State, if not always for reasons related to football,” Myerberg writes.

ASU is likewise entering 2018 under a new head coach. Herm Edwards, however, doesn’t have a college football head coaching resume to help gauge any opinions.

The football team’s restructured staff adds more questions, but maybe moreso are the on-paper roster questions that linger. Beyond having starting quarterback Manny Wilkins back for his senior season and a wide receiver group led by N’Keal Harry returning, there are too many holes that will be filled by current unknowns.

Arizona State took a big hit in the 2018 NFL Draft after offensive lineman Sam Jones, linebacker Christian Sam and defensive lineman JoJo Wicker opted to go pro with college eligibility still remaining.

The Pac-12, in Myerberg’s opinion, will have Washington carrying the conference flag this upcoming season.

The Huskies come in fourth in his rankings, while the Stanford Cardinal are next up at 12th. After that, Myerberg doesn’t expect much out of the league.

USC is the third best bet in the Pac-12 at 25th in his rankings. The Trojans are followed by Utah (30th), Arizona (32nd), Oregon (40th), UCLA (42nd), Washington State (49th), Cal (71st), ASU (85th), Colorado (99th) and Oregon State (125th).