Arizona State Football 2013: 10 Things You Need To Know
1. “Taylor-made” offense.
Taylor Kelly is the key behind ASU’s high octane offense in the desert. With a season under his belt, the 6’2”redshirt junior will need to maintain the efficient level he achieved last year.
He passed for 3,039 yards, 29 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He had a completion percentage of 67.1 percent and was third in rushing on the team last year with 516 yards.
People may talk about the quarterback north of Tempe in Eugene, but Kelly is ready to silence all critics and prove he is better.
2. Survive a murderous early season schedule.
The Sun Devils' first game is against FCS team Sacramento State. After that tune-up game, it gets a bit difficult. Up next it’s Wisconsin, at Stanford, USC and Notre Dame. Wow! If Kelly and company can survive that four game stretch, the Rose Bowl is a realistic possibly.
3. Wait for my command, then unleash hell (on defense)
I think when Russell Crowe said that line in “Gladiator,” he was prophesizing about the 2013 Sun Devils' defense. The defense will be led by defensive tackle Will Sutton (Lombardi and Outland Award watchlist), and Carl Bradford and Chris Young who both earned spots on the Butkus Award preseason watch list.
This trio paved the way for a Sun Devils' defense that led the nation in 2012 with nine tackles per loss per game and was second in the nation with four sacks per contest. The Sun Devils return eight starters on defense. If the defense can play consistent and fast, then ASU will be in great shape to win the Pac-12.
4. Marion Grice steps up and takes over.
Grice was the leading rusher for ASU last season in a part-time role. He shared the duties with D.J. Foster and Cameron Marshall in a three-headed attack. Grice finished with 679 yards and 11 touchdowns. However, he was best known for catching the ball out of the backfield as he caught 41 passes for 425 yards and eight touchdowns.
He broke out in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl rushing for 156 yards and three touchdowns. This year, he needs to take some pressure off of Kelly and rush for over 1,200 yards.
5. Chris Coyle continues to be a matchup nightmare.
Not only will defenses have to contend with Grice and Kelly, but they have to deal with a hybrid tight end as well. Coyle set a single-season school record in 2012 with 57 receptions and five touchdowns. Don’t believe how good he is, ask Illinois. In that game, he caught 10 passes for 131 yards. With his size and speed, he will be able to stretch the field and keep the chains moving.