Arizona State – Press Enterprise
A running back’s outstretched arm gave Arizona State a touchdown and the lead with 50 seconds left, and a 12-men-on-the-field flag on the tying field-goal attempt sealed the Sun Devils’ win over No. 18 Michigan State. ASU scored 10 consecutive points to seal a seven-point win over No. 15 Cal. And the greatest trick the 2019 Sun Devils ever pulled was intercepting two fourth-quarter passes from Justin Herbert to stun No. 6 Oregon and end the Pac-12’s playoff hopes.
The 2019 edition of Arizona State was uneven, finishing the year 8-5, but the Sun Devils had a knack for outperforming expectations in the biggest games, going 3-1 against ranked opponents. In Herm Edwards’ second season as head coach, it was a clear sign of improvement, especially with true freshman Jayden Daniels starting at quarterback.
Now, Arizona State hopes, it will take the next step, though questions still remain.
“We won’t know until we start playing. We’ve added some talented players, we still have a lot of work to do at certain positions and we know that,” Edwards told the Arizona Republic a week ahead of the season opener against USC.
TURNOVER ON OFFENSE
Daniels returns as a sophomore starter. But the Arizona State offense should have a very different feel than last year. The Sun Devils hired Zak Hill to be their new offensive coordinator. Hill, who was hired from Boise State, has been tight-lipped about the details of the scheme he is introducing in Tempe, but the one thing everyone at ASU agrees on is that the scheme is being built around Daniels and his skill set as a dual-threat quarterback.
But the question remains how Arizona State will balance its offense. Thousand-yard rusher Eno Benjamin is now with the Arizona Cardinals, and currently Arizona State doesn’t have a single active running back with any Division I experience. Instead, junior college transfer Rachaad White and freshmen Daniyel Ngata and DeaMonte Trayanum will try to replace Benjamin’s production.
EXPERIENCED HANDS ON DEFENSE
Edwards dipped into his NFL network in building his Arizona State staff, and after 2019, he promoted former NFL head coach Marvin Lewis from special advisor to co-defensive coordinator, sharing the title with former Long Beach Poly head coach Antonio Pierce.
Lewis and Pierce are changing the ASU scheme from a 3-3-5 defense to a four-man front with the hopes of creating more pressure on quarterbacks and not allowing time for big plays to develop. The Sun Devils return most of their starters at linebacker and in the secondary, but are still trying to iron out their defensive line rotation.