Football season is now officially 11 days away, and we’ll keep the Q&A ball rolling with the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Trojans will ride into Sun Devil Stadium late October to face off against an eager ASU squad. Arizona State finished 5-7 last year with a 2-7 conference record including big wins over UCLA and Cal. Last season USC cruised over the Sun Devils at home 40-21, however, they may find this years matchup more challenging. We asked HouseofSparky.com to give us their take on ASU.
Brendan Kearney-Conquest Chronicles
Josiah Destin-House of Sparky
Brendan: What changes will new OC Billy Napier bring to the offense?
Josiah: I don't believe Billy Napier will bring any dramatic changes to Arizona State's offense. Coming from Alabama, where Napier was the wide receiver's coach, Napier may lead ASU closer to a pro-style offense. In the Sun Devils' spring game, ASU was pass crazy and it looked like a major change from last season. But in practices and recent scrimmages, trick plays, runs and short passes have been commonly used.
Brendan: Do you believe Manny Wilkins will start over Blake Barnett? What is the latest update on the QB situation?
Josiah: Manny Wilkins is Arizona State's starting quarterback right now and Blake Barnett has to beat him out. Head coach Todd Graham has made that statement clear. While watching the two in practice, neither has really stood out, but Wilkins is definitely the front runner because of his experience. If Wilkins starts this season, which I think he will, I still do see Barnett getting playing time. If Barnett plays well enough, he may take over the job. At the same time, run-friendly Wilkins may become injured, forcing Barnett into the job.
Brendan: ASU has now finished last in the nation in passing yards allowed back to back seasons. What can they do to improve and is there a dynamic player looking to change that trend?
Josiah: First-year defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has changed the culture of Arizona State's defense. Bennett came to ASU to assess the situation and the secondary looked great in its last scrimmage open to the public at Camp Tontozona. The issue though, is Kareem Orr, who transferred to Chattanooga, and Armand Perry, who retired due to injury, were the Sun Devils starting cornerbacks last season. It looks like this season's starting corners are walk-on Joey Bryant and Long Beach City College transfer Kobe Williams. The two haven't played in a NCAA Division I game yet. It could either be surprisingly good or bad against the pass this season.
Brendan: What are ASU fans (and your) expectations for the upcoming campaign?
Josiah: ASU fans are hoping for a winning season. After back-to-back 10-win seasons and then back-to-back losing seasons, Sun Devil fans are expecting about a .500 year, but obviously hope to win a bowl game. I see ASU finishing with about the same record they did last season. A successful season would be for the Sun Devils to finish in the win column.
Brendan: Your favorite player and why.
Josiah: Kalen Ballage is ridiculously fast for his height and weight. The guy is NFL talent on a college football field. He'll have some big plays this season. Watch out for him.
Check HouseofSparky.com for the other half of this Q&A piece. Tune in Saturday, October 28 to watch this enticing matchup.