State of the Prog..."/> State of the Prog..."/>

Pac-12 Previews, South #5 Arizona State


State of the Program:

Ughhhhhhh. It’s difficult to talk about.  To put a positive spin on it, ASU was the top performer in last season’s dramatic race to avoid winning the Pac-12 South. ASU’s schedule was rather front-heavy with Missouri, and USC visiting, and trips to Illinois, Utah and Oregon by the mid-point in October. So when ASU emerged from that stretch with wins over both of their chief in-division rivals and a closing schedule that included games with Colorado, Washington St. and the hapless Bruins and Wildcats, the Devils’ trip to the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game seemed completely inevitable.

But we all know what happened after that. ASU would indeed handily beat Colorado, but then finished 0-5 for reasons that remain completely unclear. Dennis Erickson was fired, seven starters on both sides of the ball departed, including Brock Osweiller and Vontaze Burfect. Then the athletic department made arguably the least popular hire of the offseason in Todd Graham, followed by season ticket holders leaving in droves. Excitement in the desert is not exactly peaking right now.

Star Watch:

With Oregon starting a pair of stars, USC nabbing Silas Redd, and the likes of Jonathan Franklin, Stepfan Taylor, John White, and Isi Sofele, returning, it is very difficult to stand out at tailback in the Pac-12. But in Cameron Marshall, ASU has one of the best all-around backs in the country.

Marshall somehow moves his 225 pound frame at 4.4 speed, and combines it with superb vision that lead to the only 1,000 yard rushing season of the Erickson Era last year. Marshall is back this season and will look to put up more big numbers in Todd Graham’s spread option system.

ASU also boasts one of the most exciting players in the Pac-12 in WR/PR Jamal Miles. Miles is ASU’s leading returning receiver and was even the Devils 2nd leading rusher last year. He was also the Pac’s best punt returner in 2011 by a wide margin with a 16.6 ypr average.

Roster Changes:

In 2010, Cameron Marshall split carries with speed back Deantre Lewis, who averaged nearly 6 ypc. Lewis is a speed back from Norco who redshirted last season recovering from a gunshot wound. Lewis probably won’t get anything like an even split in carries this season, but he’ll give the Sundevils a great change of pace and take some pressure off of Marshall.

However, ASU has by far the fewest returning starters in the Pac-12. They have three new starters on the O-Line and LOSE THEIR TOP SIX TACKLERS from last season.

The Quarterback position remained unsettled until last week with three very different QBs still in the running. Last year’s backup Mike Bercovici is a traditional passer, redshirt freshman Michael Eubank is a dynamic, running playmaker , and Sophomore Taylor Kelly brings a balanced threat.

Ultimately, it was Kelly’s dual-threat ability that won the starting job. But Coach Graham is hinting that the offense will find ways to feature Eubank’s playmaking ability as well.


ASU has 5 Pac-12 away games this season and only 4 at home, one of which is Oregon. They must play @USC and go on the road for the Territorial Cup. Their non-conference schedule includes Northern Arizona, but the Devils have a rematch with Illinois (who beat ASU last season) and travel to new SEC member Missouri.


ASU has some talented playmakers and in Kelly, Eubank, Marshall and Lewis. This means Todd Graham actually arrives in Tempe with some great personnel already in place to run his system. However, with an unfriendly schedule and the team learning schemes on both sides of the ball (ASU will switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4), it’s hard to take too sunny a view of the Devils’ chances this season. Another 7-6/6-7 season looks to be in the offing.