#42 Arizona State Football 2019 Preview

Arizona State Sun Devils
Overall Rank: #42
#7 Pac-12
 Arizona State Logo
Last year Arizona State was right in the mix in the wide open Pac-12 South. That could be the case again this season with most of the top teams in the North. With a very experienced offense and a defensive unit with talent, the Sun Devils could surprise a lot of people in the Pac-12.
2018 Record: 7-6, 5-4
2018 Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Fresno State (L 20-31)
Coach: Herm Edwards (7-6 at Arizona State, 7-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Rob Likens
Defensive Coordinator: Danny Gonzales
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Eno Benjamin, RB, 1,642 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 474 yards
Tackles: Merlin Robertson, LB, 77
Sacks: Merlin Robertson, LB, 5.0
Interceptions: Aashari Crosswell, S, 4
Other Key Returnees: WR Kyle Williams, WR Frank Darby, OL Cohl Cabral, LB Darien Butler, CB Chase Lucas, CB Kobe Williams, LB Tyler Johnson, K Brandon Ruiz
Key Losses: QB Manny Wilkins, WR N’Keal Harry, LB Jalen Harvey, S Demonte King
Arizona State has experience all over the offensive side of the ball except at quarterback. Replacing Manny Wilkins will not be easy. Dillon Sterling-Cole is the heir apparent, but the junior only threw two passes as Wilkins’ backup last season. Freshman Jayden Daniels will push for the starting job in the fall. Whoever is under center will have a lot of talent around them. Brandon Aiyuk, Kyle Williams and Frank Darby are very good receivers, but it remains to be seen if somebody can get them the ball on a consistent basis. If the passing game does struggle, ASU can rely on the ground game. Eno Benjamin is back after rushing for 1,642 yards and 16 touchdowns and he is the workhorse that can carry this offense through any growing pains in the passing attack.
Arizona State will have to rely heavily on some new faces in the front three, but the rest of the defense is loaded. Linebackers Merlin Robertson and Darien Butler are great leaders in the middle of the defense and they are only sophomores. With a year of starting experience under their belt, Robertson and Butler could emerge as one of the best linebacker duos in the conference. Not long ago the Sun Devils had the worse passing defense in the nation. The pass defense has improved dramatically the last couple of seasons and that has been in large part due to the play of Kobe Williams and Chase Lucas. Those two are back again and ASU will also get plenty of big plays from sophomore safety Aashari Crosswell.
The Bottom Line:
All eyes will be on the quarterback position. If Arizona State can successfully replace Watkins, they will make some serious noise in the Pac-12. The hope is home games against Kent State and Sacramento State to start the campaign will give either Sterling-Cole or Daniels the time they need to settle into the offense. After that the Sun Devils head to Michigan State and then Pac-12 play begins the following week.
Projected Bowl: Cheez-It Bowl
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 184.0 (50th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 232.7 (65, 10)
Total Offense: 416.7 (50, 4)
Scoring Offense: 29.9 (58, 4)
Rushing Defense: 170.5 (74, 10)
Pass Defense: 233.8 (71, 6)
Total Defense: 404.4 (73, 8)
Scoring Defense: 25.5 (53, 7)
Turnover Margin: 0.77 (11, 1)
Sacks: 2.23 (57, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.23 (14, 2)

Madness 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#40 Jayden Daniels
#137 Joey Yellen