1. Arizona State’s offense has been downright lethargic to start the season. Is this the result of the brand-new personnel or something deeper?
It’s rare to throw a true freshman quarterback into an offense, especially one losing its first-round wide receiver N’Keal Harry, and just see excellent results. However, the lack of offense isn’t on Jayden Daniels, it’s been the constant shuffle at offensive line. Through the first three games, it has been a different five-man group to start. Expected left tackle Zach Robertson never showed up to camp and has been gone for personal reasons. Cade Cote won the starting center job after Cohl Cabral moved from center to left tackle, then Cote broke his foot before the season opener. Cabral has now moved back to center and ASU is starting two true freshman on its line with Ladarius Henderson and Dohnovan West.
2. On the other hand, the defense has built on the progress they made last season, despite being young. What makes this unit work?
In Danny Gonzales’ 3-3-5 system, you need to compete. The team uses a big rotation, the past recruiting class is filled with a lot of talent in the defensive backfield, which has pushed the sophomore safeties to play for their spots. But that’s been the key is the talented freshman from last season, LB Merlin Robertson, LB Darien Butler, DE Jermayne Lole, DT DJ Davidson, SAF Aashari Crosswell and Cam Phillips continue to make strides in being great.
3. Will Jayden Daniels end up being an upper-echelon Pac-12 QB?
I believe by the end of the season Daniels will finish as an upper-echelon. The offensive line will get better with time, thus opening up more holes to increase Eno Benjamin’s productivity and helping Daniels have more breathing room on the offense. Offensive coordinator Rob Likens’ play calling has been conservative thus far, but I think once it gets further he’ll let Daniels sling it more aggressively.
4. Will the heat play a factor in the game on Saturday?
The heat will probably be a factor, but less than one thinks. It’s starting to cool down in Arizona, kickoff will be around 93 degrees and probably get closer to the mid-80s once the game ends.
5. What are your thoughts on Mel Tucker so far?
It’s tough to tell after three games. People are probably upset after the Air Force loss, but Sun Devil fans last year were upset after ASU lost to San Diego State. Colorado is probably headed in the right direction, it might take till season’s end to understand that, similar to Arizona State’s season last year.
6. Who are the players to watch on offense? Defense?
On offense, Eno Benjamin is still looking for the big game he had so many of last year, but I don’t think this is the week. I think wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk will probably have a good game and continue his connection with Daniels. The defense it’s hard to choose just one player, although with one pick I’d say Chase Lucas. Lucas had a rough game last year in Boulder, it changed his mentality the rest of the way. I’d expect him to try to play his best redemption card and lock down Laviska Shenault as much as he can.
7. What is your prediction for the game?
It’ll be ugly. I’ll go 23-16 ASU