Nov 28, 2014; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Manny Wilkins (5) on the sidelines against the Arizona Wildcats during the 88th annual territorial cup at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
HW: Outside of D.J. Foster and Mike Bercovici, who must step up if Arizona State wants a chance to contend with the top programs in the nation?
CS: I’m going to go with the whole offensive line. That will be important because they need to let Berco have time to throw the ball. These guys are mostly upperclassmen and have the talent to contend for one of the best squads in the nation.
KA: With defense being the key to their success once again, leaders like Jordan Simone have to continue to put up impressive numbers to give the Sun Devils a fighting chance.
Simone racked up 100 tackles in 2014 as a redshirt junior. ASU will need Simone to fill the voids left by Damarious Randall and Marcus Hardison, who led the Sun Devil defense last season.
With seasoned veterans returning for Todd Graham on defense in 2015, Simone will have to step up his game andd improve on last season’s totals notonly for himself, but for the entire team that is counting his capabilities.
On the offense side, it’s important that the Sun Devils establish a solid back-up QB for Mike Bercovici.
Berco was arguably the guy who single-handedly saved the Sun Devils’ season last year. Coming in for Taylor Kelly, Berco quickly established his brand of style that won over the Sun Devil faithful… Let’s not forget his incredible pass into the end zone to stun USC.
This season, with Berco easily making the transition from back up quarterback to starter, the question is: who will be his back up?
Right now, the answer is being tossed around between a pool of freshmen that includes Manny Wilkins, Bryce Perkins and Brady White.
Wilkins appears to be the frontrunner of that group. The sundevils.com said Wilkins sat out last year as a redshirt. He was listed by 24-7 Sports as the ninth-best dual threat quarterback in the country during his senior season at San Marin High School in Novato, CA.
Scouting reports on Wilkins say he possesses solid arm strength. He is an accurate thrower that limits the amounts of interceptions he throws. Report say that he has probably thrown the least among his fellow quarterbacks in the Fall.
JM: In order for the Sun Devils to be successful they need to find a reliable receiver. DJ Foster is a do-it-all type of guy and that is always a benefit to have, but if they put him in the backfield there isn’t much of an outside threat with the injury to Cam Smith. They need another receiver step up.
A close second has to be Demario Richard. He had a wonder freshman year, so if he can repeat that I think that they might be able to keep him in the backfield and possibly keep Foster out wide to hopefully bolster that inexperienced receiving core early on.
MH: When ASU lost Will Sutton to the NFL it was a rough transition, and with injuries playing some role in last year’s struggles, this year the defense needs to step up. They are a young defense that lost Damarious Randall and Marcus Hardison, and will need to find their footing in a new more aggressive system.
One player in particular that needs to show himself is Jordan Simone, who last year was second on the team in tackles behind Randall. Simone will need to be a leader in the backfield and show this young defense what it means to be a Sun Devil. If the offense does well, hopefully the defense can step up and show their worth. In order for the team to go far they will need a successful defense.
JF: Anybody! Anybody who calls themselves a receiver, tight end, or running back has the chance to lead the team in receptions and receiving touchdowns this year. The top guy could change from week to week, but the Sun Devils will need somebody to emerge so that Bercovici and company have somebody they can rely on in the game’s toughest moments. Perhaps Red Shirt senior Devin Lucien becomes that guy.
EB: I think Devin Lucien needs to prove to ASU fans that he can be a threat on offense every single play he’s on the field. With the departure of Jaelen Strong, the wide receiving core is going to need a leader, and with Lucien being a PAC-12 player already, he should be able to lead the young group of receivers.
Next: Toughest Games on Schedule