Heading into 2022, one has to wonder how much longer former NFL coach Herman Edwards has to turn things around at Arizona State.
There’s been the occasional win over a ranked team in recent seasons. Typically, however, Arizona State wins seven or eight games, while not much of a factor in the Pac-12. With USC (before it leaves town) hiring Lincoln Riley and Oregon bringing in Dan Lanning, the stakes did increase.
Arizona State had 20 players-including starters on both offense and defense-transfer. That’s not a great look for the program.
According to the college football picks, ASU’s tied for seventh-lowest odds (+3300) to win the Pac-12.
Expected regular-season win total for the Sun Devils is 6½, with the odds at -135 for the Sun Devils going under that figure, according to the college football odds.
Arizona State Sun Devils
- 2021 record: 8-5
- 2021 conference record: 5-3
- Head coach: Herm Edwards
- Odds to win conference title: +3300
Good news is that things are trending in the right direction in Tempe, as the odds of Arizona State winning the Pac-12 title moved from +4000 to +3300 in the last month.
A key addition for Arizona State is Xazavian Valladay, 1,070 yards for Wyoming last season and the Cowboys’ leading rusher in each of the last three.
However, having the starting quarterback, a starting offensive lineman and three of your top six receivers transfer wasn’t good.
With the quarterback Jayden Daniels now at LSU, former Florida quarterback Emory Jones figures to be running the offense. Jones has been productive both running and throwing. In his lone season as the starter, interceptions were an issue, nine in four games in 2021.
ASU loses three offensive-line starters. Guard LaDarius Henderson and tackle Ben Scott are the two returnees, so the line is rebuilt around them. Three offensive linemen have entered, including tackle Joey Ramos (Iowa State).
Also, the top three rushers have departed Tempe, so Daniyel Ngata (56 carries for 309 yards) is the leading returnee in the backfield. As previously mentioned, Xazavian Valladay ran for more than 1000 yards (adding 23 receptions) at Wyoming in 2021. Valladay had 13 games with more than 100 rushing yards in his four seasons in Laramie, and he figures to have a major role in the offense.
Cam Johnson, who had 34 catches for Vanderbilt last season, and former Missouri tight end Messiah Swinson, both will help.
The defense returns leading tackler Kyle Soelle, as well as fellow linebacker Merlin Robertson. However, eight of the top 10 tacklers left town. Arizona State used the transfer portal to bolster that unit.
Safety Khoury Bethley was Hawaii’s second-leading tackler, with five interceptions and six passes defended. Defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera (38 tackles, 5½, tackles for loss) helps, while cornerback Ro Torrence comes in from Auburn and safety Chris Edmonds arrives via Samford.
D.J. Taylor could be one of the top kickoff and punt returners in the Pac-12. Arizona State ranked in the middle of the conference in punting, along with the fewest field goals made/attempted in the conference last season.
Top rusher Rachaad White is off to the NFL with Tampa Bay. One constant for ASU is having a productive featured back on whom to depend. The Sun Devils have had a 1,000-yard rusher in every full season dating to 2017.
Week 2 at Oklahoma State should provide a glimpse at how good a team Arizona State figures to be. Back-to back games against Utah and Southern Cali are not easy. If the Sun Devils can tread water early in the conference season, the latter part isn’t quite as daunting.
— Sun Devil Football (@ASUFootball) May 26, 2022
Arizona State led the Pac-12 in total defense a season ago. However, there are simply too many key players gone from that defense to expect a repeat performance. If the influx of young receivers mature, Arizona State could provide more of a well-rounded offensive in 2022.
Having only 11 attempted field goals in 13 games speaks volumes about the offensive issues which plagued the Sun Devils. Arizona State must do a better job of sustaining drives after averaging only 16.4 points in the five losses last season. Those who bet online will need to decide if those offensive issues have carried over with so many new players in key roles.
Sept. 1 vs Northern Arizona
Sept. 10 at Oklahoma State
Sept. 17 vs Eastern Michigan
Sept. 24 vs Utah
Oct. 1 at Southern California
Oct. 8 vs Washington
Oct. 22 at Stanford
Oct. 29 at Colorado
Nov. 5 vs UCLA
Nov. 12 at Washington State
Nov. 19 vs Oregon State
Nov. 25 at Arizona