Arizona State Football: Sun Devils 2022 Season Preview and Predictions –

Merlin Robertson and the Sun Devils are ranked No. 80 in Athlon Sports’ Top 131 for the 2022 college football season

Arizona State’s gradual three-year rise under Herm Edwards faced sudden turbulence last summer when the start of an NCAA investigation into alleged recruiting irregularities rocked the program throughout a disappointing 8-5 season.

In the months that followed, defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce, offensive coordinator Zak Hill and tight ends coach Adam Breneman quit, while wide receivers coach Prentice Gill and secondary coach Chris Hawkins were fired. . Then, 17 superb players entered the transfer portal, including several of the best players in the team. The Sun Devils have a very different team and a half-rebuilt staff that is tasked with replacing most of its best players, including at quarterback after Jayden Daniels moved to LSU. To cope, ASU added more Division I transfers than ever, with newcomers expected to start in multiple positions.

Related: Athlon Sports’ Top 25 College Football for 2022

Arizona State Offense Preview for 2022

After two seasons in the same role at UNLV, Glenn Thomas took over as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The Sun Devils will continue to deploy a multiple offense, but one that has a bit more of a pro-style feel with an increased amount of play passes and drop backs. Thomas will have to find a replacement for Daniels, who left after a disappointing season. A potential answer came in early May with a commitment from Florida transfer Emory Jones. In 13 games with the Gators last year, Jones had over 3,000 total yards, and his mobility is an asset for a rebuilding offensive line.

To make matters worse, ASU must replace its two main running backs (including star Rachaad White), its top tight end and three starting offensive linemen.

Several important newcomers were transferred: running back Xazavian Valladay from Wyoming, where he was Mountain West’s most productive running back the previous three seasons; Vanderbilt wide receiver Cam Johnson; tight end Messiah Swinson of Missouri; and offensive linemen Des Holmes (Penn State), Chris Martinez (San Diego State), Emmit Bohle (Division II Northern State) and Joey Ramos (Iowa State).

While they should be good at running between Valladay and Daniyel Ngata, and between Swinson and Jalin Conyers, the offensive line is in question after Ben Scott moved from right tackle to center to replace All-League pick Dohnovan West. Additionally, Bohle takes on youngster Isaia Glass at left tackle after the departure of All-League selection Kellen Diesch.

The wide receiver is an even bigger concern, with no newcomers springing into a position of need. Ricky Pearsall entered the transfer gate after Spring Ball despite leading the team in all major receiving categories last season. Elijhah Badger is able to offer a lot more production than last season, and he may need it.

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Arizona State Defense Preview for 2022

Donnie Henderson was promoted from interim secondary coach to coordinator to replace Pierce, who now coaches linebackers with the Las Vegas Raiders. Henderson has nearly four decades of coaching under his belt, including as a secondary coach for ASU’s 1996 Rose Bowl team.

The front-seven are an obvious team strength, led by sixth-year senior linebackers Kyle Soelle and Merlin Robertson, though Freshman All-American Eric Gentry left the team after Spring Ball as a top transfer. level towards USC.

Defensive line coach Robert Rodriguez has done a great job with his group, although his best technical tackle, star Jermayne Lole, entered the transfer gate. Nose tackle Nesta Jade Silvera, a transfer from Miami (Florida), will help make up for the loss of starter DJ Davidson, while BJ Green, who led the team in sacks last season, will be elevated to a bigger role. important in 3-position technique.

In the end, sixth-year senior Travez Moore started early last season against Tyler Johnson, ASU’s only All-Pac-12 first-team pick, before injuring his knee in September. But Moore may struggle to earn a starting job after Michael Matus and Anthonie Cooper played extremely well last season and young substitutes Joe Moore and Gharin Stansbury showed great promise.

Replacing four starters in the secondary is ASU’s biggest defensive responsibility. Safety looks stronger as cornerback after Hawaii transfer Khoury Bethley and Samford transfer Chris Edmonds were effective at spring ball, and Kejuan Markham was solid last season following an injury to starter Evan Fields .

With Chase Lucas and Jack Jones no longer in Tempe, Timarcus Davis and the other comebacks need to improve at cornerback, where former Colorado corner Tarik Luckett has been added to the junior college ranks.

Related: Pac-12 football predictions for 2022

Arizona State Specialists Preview for 2022

Punter Eddie Czaplicki was excellent in first year and increased his hanging time and turning reliability on the pitch. DJ Taylor will try to make amends for a disappointing season as a returning after breaking out in 2020. Placekicking could be a problem with up to three players set to compete for the job.

Final analysis

The Sun Devils will struggle to match their total of eight wins from 2021. With so much to replace, they also have a tougher schedule that includes a game at Oklahoma State and a brutal opener at the Pac-12 slate. – the Sun Devils host Utah before heading to USC. Equally important are the distractions caused by the NCAA investigation, which could contribute to a coaching change by the end of the year.

National Ranking: 80

Podcast: Full Pac-12 Preview + 2022 Predictions