2022 Arizona St. Sun Devils Preview

by Matt Fargo

Arizona St. Sun Devils

2021-22 Season Record 8-5 (6-3 Pac 12 South) - 6-7-0 ATS - 4-8-1 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 5
Defense - 7

Overview

Expectations were huge last season for Arizona St. and it did finish tied for second in the Pac 12 South but it was a minimal consolation. The Sun Devils started 5-1 including a perfect 3-0 conference record but a pair of losses against Utah and Washington St. deflated that great start. Not counting the 2-2 COVID-shortened season, head coach Herm Edwards has three winning seasons and three bowl games in his four years but has been unable to take the Sun Devils to the next level with their best finish being 8-5 twice. There are no high expectations this season and that might be a good thing with no pressure on the players but a stronger division puts them in a tough spot. Arizona St. lost a ton to graduation and transfers and while it is not a rebuild, the pressure is still on Edwards in what could be his final season if the Sun Devils cannot make a push at the Pac 12 South Division title.

Offense

Playmakers were in place last season to form an explosive offense but it could never get off the ground and now all of those playmakers are gone. Quarterback Jayden Daniels, who had three solid seasons, transferred in February and will likely be replaced by either Emory Jones or Paul Tyson, a pair of transfers from the SEC. Running back Rachaad White, who rushed for over 1.000 yards, has graduated while leading receiver Ricky Pearsall is also gone so the offense could be challenged early on. The offensive line lost its best player in Kellen Diesch but there is enough experience and talent for this group to succeed and they will have to be the backbone of this offense. The Sun Devils finished No. 75 in total offense last season with a stacked group and with so many defections, it is a guess as to how this unit will perform especially early in the season before they can come together.

Defense

The defense carried Arizona St. last season as it finished No. 13 in total defense and No. 22 in scoring defense, both of which led the conference, and it will need another repeat. Defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce is gone to the NFL after one season and will be replaced by Donnie Henderson who has never been a coordinator at the college level. The defense lost some key players to graduation and the Sun Devils will have to rely on some significant transfers on this side of the ball as well. Defensive lineman Nesta Jade Silvera from Miami, linebacker Rodney Groce from Mississippi St. and safety Khoury Bethley from Hawaii will plug in the three big holes across the three levels. The Arizona St. defense on paper should not miss a beat as there is plenty of experience and depth across the board and a lot of the success will depend on DC Henderson and how he transitions into the system.

2022 Season Outlook

There were offseason issues with talk about recruiting violations which led to a lot of the player transfers and coaching changers and it will be up to Edwards and his veteran leadership to carry this team. The Sun Devils have two easy non-conference home games against Northern Arizona and Eastern Michigan sandwiched around a game at Oklahoma St. before opening conference action at home against Utah and at USC and those two games could make or break their season early. Arizona St. misses Oregon from the North Division and its home and road slates are relatively equal. Three of the four favorites in the conference are from the South Division and Arizona St. is not one of those so it will be a challenge. The O/U win total is set at 6.5 and this is a tough one to call as it could go either way and it will come down to upsets, good or bad, to predict the final outcome. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2022 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.