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ESPN’s May: ASU will be improved from last season

LISTEN: Mark May, ESPN College Football Anayst

As Arizona State’s head football coach, Dennis Erickson’s second season was substantially worse than his first.

Having gone 10-3 in 2007, the Devils entered 2008 with high expectations, only to stumble to a disappointing 5-8 campaign.

Todd Graham, who replaced Erickson in 2012, is hoping to avoid a similar fate. ASU surprised many with an eight-win campaign last season, but this year the team is expected to compete for a Pac-12 South title.

A guest of Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Tuesday, ESPN NCAA analyst Mark May says it’s going to be tough to have a big year because of the difficult early-season schedule that includes home games against Wisconsin and USC as well as a road game at Stanford and a neutral-site game against Notre Dame.

“After Sacramento State they’ve got four probable losses in a row,” May said.

May, though, believes the Sun Devils will be a better team this year than last, and added he doesn’t think the team is destined for a second-year slide.

“I think that right now, the mindset of this team is a little different than teams in the past,” he said, adding that their approach going into the season is solid. “And plus, the talent they’ve got coming back in their offensive backfield, and you’ve got a Will Sutton in the middle defensively.”

Comparing the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year to a werewolf or Tasmanian Devil, he said Sutton is the type of player who the rest of the conference’s coaches have to account for.

But, May said, the Devils do have some areas where they must improve.

“They’ve got to find a way to stop the run,” he said. “You can’t give up 183 yards a game rushing and expect to be in a lot of these ball games, particularly during the season when you get worn down towards the end of the season.”