Editorials

Arizona State is a team on the rise for 2020

Photo/Sun Devil Athletics

(Marana, AZ)  Herm Edwards came to Tempe in December of 2017. Initially his hire was met with many questions and skepticism. Going into his third year, he has seemed to have quelled most of his critics.

Photo/Sun Devil Athletics

Coming from the National Football League, he’s nicely adjusted to the college game and is off to a solid start in Tempe.

ASU has a 15-11 record in his first two years where he’s had most of former coach Todd Graham’s players.

In conference, the Devils are .500 with a 9-9 record. Edwards has led both previous teams to Bowl appearances, winning the Sun Bowl in El Paso last December.

Arizona State started a true freshman at quarterback in 2019. Jayden Daniels had the Devils competitive in every game last year. They only lost one game by more than 10 points. A 8-5 record in 2019 was more than expected from the first year signal caller who also garnered Freshman All American honors.

The 2020 Pac-12 South is Arizona State’s for the taking. No other South Division teams return what the Sun Devils have coming back or had a blockbuster recruiting class that ASU collected.

They did however lose All Pac-12 running back Eno Benjamin to an early entrance in the upcoming draft. Both top wideouts, Brandon Aiyuk and Kyle Williams used up their eligibility.

New Offensive Coordinator Zak Hill who was announced last December, is coming over from Boise State and their wide open offense that should give ASU more scoring chances. The Sun Devils only averaged 24.8 points per game, which was 96th out of 130 FBS teams.

Last season’s offensive line was very young with a lot of underclassmen. The Devils received two commitments from two graduate transfers to bolster the trenches in 2020 that should pay dividends. A decision by the NCAA to give center Cade Cote a sixth year of eligibility will further anchor the offensive front for the Devils.

ASU’s defense should be the strength of this team with the return of eight starters from last season. They’ve steadily improved since Edwards has been at the helm and is projected to be the conference’s top defense.

One of the areas needing improvement is a better pass rush than last season. Too many times opposing quarterbacks had ample time to pick apart the Devil’s secondary.

Former Arizona Wildcat and NFL linebacker Antonio Pierce and Cincinnati Bengal’s head coach Marvin Lewis will call the plays for the upcoming season on the defensive side of the ball. Watch out for hard hitting, blitzing defenses that should keep the opponents off balance.

Adding to their NFL coaching pedigree, Robert Rodriguez joins the staff from the Minnesota Vikings and will be coaching the defensive line.

Arizona State opens with in-state rival to the north NAU before taking the short hop over to Las Vegas to face UNLV.

Their first conference test will be the fourth game of the year on September 26th in the Los Angeles Coliseum against the Trojans of USC.

Before February, it looked like the back to back games on the road at Colorado and a week later in Pullman versus Washington State could be trap games. Both schools now will be breaking in new head coaches, which should favor the Sun Devils coming off a bye week.

November 7th, Cal comes knocking as also one of the most improved teams from last season. This may be a pivotal game to see how much ASU has gotten better going into the last half of the season.

The final three games may be interesting depending on the number of injuries the team has sustained.

The Oregon Ducks will want revenge from the 2019 game that ultimately knocked them out of the College Football Playoff picture.

Utah will play in Tempe on November 21st as the last home game of the season.

The Territorial Cup game is down in Tucson on Thanksgiving Weekend where Sparky will try to maintain their recent dominance over the Wildcats winning six out of the last eight games, including the last three consecutive contests.

Arizona leads the all-time series 49-43-1, however since joining the PAC-10/12 in 1978, the Cats have a slim 21-20-1 advantage. The head to head Pacific Athletic Conference record could be all tied up with a Sun Devil victory.

A 9-3 or 8-4 overall record isn’t out of the question or realm of possibility for this team in 2020.

(All Photos courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics)

 

 

 

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