ASU captain Kyle Soelle: ‘Anything I’m a part of will be more than 5 wins’
TEMPE — “Buy in.”
It’s a phrase used by most football coaches when asking their players to leave any individualistic ideologies at the front door and completely immerse themselves into the system and trust the process.
And following the mass exodus the Arizona State Sun Devils football team just experienced this past offseason, the ones who chose to either stay or transfer to Tempe have done just that.
“Getting everybody to buy in. We’re trying to reestablish this culture and getting guys to buy in,” redshirt senior defensive end Michael Matus said at Sun Devil football media day on Monday.
“It’s been a big mess outside media-wise. And just kind of helping people just drown that out and just get to playing ball. That’s all we need to do.”
That “outside media” noise — which stems from the ongoing NCAA investigation for alleged recruiting violations that has also already seen numerous coaches depart — has resulted in perhaps the lowest expectations going into a regular season since head coach Herm Edwards took over in 2018.
In fact, FanDuel Sportsbook has ASU’s win total for the season currently at 5.5. Remember, teams need six wins to become bowl eligible.
“My expectations are a lot different than I would say your guys’ expectations,” captain Kyle Soelle said Monday. “They have us at what, 5.5 wins this year? I guess we’ll see in December. … I think anything I’m a part of will be more than five wins.”
Of the 12 teams in the conference, only Arizona (2.5), Colorado (3.5) and Stanford (4.5) have a lower win total.
Meanwhile, the likes of USC (9.5), UCLA (8.5), Utah (8.5) and Oregon (8.5) are expected to compete in the Pac-12 Championship Game with a possible trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.
“When I saw a post [of where we were] ranked, it’s like I already got (stuff) that is already built up in my mind that I’m mad about — like people talking (expletive) about me,” defensive end Travez Moore said Monday. “But when you talk about the team, like what we’re going to win, it’s like, ‘Okay, we’re gonna show you.’
“They got teams ranked below us that we beat last year. Are you serious? So y’all just looking at this transfer portal (expletive) — excuse my language — but it kind of gets me fired up thinking about it. Y’all only got us winning like four or five games. Okay, we’re gonna show y’all. We’re gonna prove y’all wrong. The guys we have here, those are the guys we’re gonna run with.”
Soelle — who is a Scottsdale native and Saguaro High School alumnus — has played his entire collegiate career under Edwards after redshirting his first year on campus back in 2017.
Now in what will be his final year of eligibility as a redshirt fifth-year senior, the linebacker hopes to lead the Pac-12 in tackles and tackles for loss while also upping his interception and sack count.
But above all else, the Valley native wants to do something that ASU hasn’t done since Sun Devil legend Jake Plummer was still taking snaps under center before the turn of the millennium.
“At the end of the day, my real goal is to just win the Pac and get us to the Rose Bowl,” Soelle said. “If I can achieve those, I would feel my career here at Arizona State will have been a success.”