Season Preview: Arizona State Sun Devils Football

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Nov 22, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham talks with Arizona State Sun Devils defensive back Lloyd Carrington (8) and linebacker Salamo Fiso (58) during the game against the Washington State Cougars at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian -USA TODAY Sports

HW: Do you think the offensive or defensive unit looks better entering the 2015 season? Why?

CS: The offensive unit because Bercovici and Foster will lead the way. The defensive side is just okay, but the offense is what will win games.

KA: Todd Graham prides himself on defense and with 9-of-11 starters returning this season, the Sun Devil defense will be stronger and more experienced.

They have to be. It’s going to be their key to making a run for the playoffs.

Last season, they had problems with tackling and giving up big gainers. Their reputation quickly spread though as a team that likes to blitz and blitz often.

The Sun Devils blitzed more than any other team in the nation in 2014. According to ESPN, the Sun Devils blitzed 294 times. They sacked opposing QBs 32 times — most in Power 5 football. They also had seven interceptions (third in P-5) and allowed 4.5 yards per play when blitzing (T14th in P-5).

Expect to see a lot more of that in 2015.

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  • JM: This is a difficult question. If I were to decide which side of the ball would have the edge I would have to give it to the defense. One concern, which I’ll address in the next question is who do they have at receiver? I feel like the defense is a much more complete group.

    MH: As Demario Richard put it, “If you thought last year’s offense was explosive, wait for next season.” He is referring to this year’s offense under Mike Bercovici, even though the team lost Jaelen Strong to the NFL and Cameron Smith to knee surgery, it will not stop them from going far this year. Bercovici is a leader on this team and has proven capabilities of taking this offense far, and with DJ Foster moving to wide receiver this could be a very fun year.

    JF: The Sun Devils defense is better than the offense, at least it better be.  They have a plethora of upperclassman, freshman standout JoJo Wicker, and a head coach whose main focus is defense. On offense, they lose Jaelen Strong, one of the top Wide Receivers in the country, and start quarterback Mike Bercovici, a red shirt senior with just a handful of starts in his collegiate career.

    I have no doubt that Bercovici is a guy that can play at a high level in the Pac 12, but besides D.J. Foster, it remains to be seen who he’s going to throw to. This team could put up big numbers on offense. They run a fast tempo and Bercovici can air it out, but if the Sun Devils want to be one of the elite teams in the nation, they need to play that way on the defensive end.

    EB: The defense looks like they are going to be very good for not only this season, but many seasons to come.

    Next: Who must step up this year?