We’ve all heard the old proverb “there is no substitute for experience.”
Unfortunately for the 2014 Arizona State Sun Devils, they don’t have much of it.
In fact, college football expert Phil Steele, in an ESPN Insider piece, ranks Todd Graham’s team dead last in the Pac-12 and 108th in the country in terms of returning experience.
The Sun Devils are coming off a Pac-12 South title and just their second 10-win season in the past 17 years. However, coach Todd Graham will have his hands full this year as they return just eight starters and 57 percent of their lettermen (No. 124). The good news is that they return 72 percent of their offensive yards (No. 46), led by quarterback Taylor Kelly (4,243 total yards) and wide receiver Jaelen Strong (1,122 receiving yards).
The bad news is they are the least-experienced defense in the country, with just 30.1 percent of their total tackles back (No. 128) and will likely fall in the Pac-12 standings.
The issue, as Steele points out, is on the defensive side of the ball. Gone are Carl Bradford, Davon Coleman, Gannon Conway, Alden Darby, Osahon Irabor, Anthony Jones, Steffon Martin, Robert Nelson, Will Sutton and Chris Young, who combined to make 248 career starts for the Sun Devils.
ASU’s most experienced defensive players — Lloyd Carrington, Salamo Fiso, Jaxon Hood, Laiu Moeakiola and Demarious Randall — have combined to make 46 career starts.
The road to experience for ASU’s green defense starts Aug. 28 when the Devils host Weber State in Tempe.
Steele’s article ranks UCLA, Oregon and Cal as the most experienced teams in the conference heading into 2014.