Arizona State’s first opponent of the 2013 football season, Sacramento State, will pose an early test for Todd Graham and his Sun Devils. The Big Sky Conference member returns 17 starters from a year ago, including some very important positions.
The Hornets posted a 6-5, 4-4 record in 2012, but missed out on post-season play. Head coach Marshall Sperbeck has a 139-90 career record and is intent on improving his team’s talent across the board.
Sacramento State will benefit from the return nine of its 11 starters on offense from a season ago. Talented young quarterback Garrett Safron completed 65 percent of his passes in 2012 while posting 22 touchdowns. He will be throwing to four of his top five targets from a year ago. Another key offensive incumbent is RB/WR Ezekiel Graham, who came on late last season to lead the Hornets in rushing.
Sacramento State also returns a stout defense that will help it make a stronger run through the Big Sky. One important task is replacing strong safety Ryan McMahon, who was a stalwart defender in 2012.
The good news for Sperbeck’s squad: they miss facing Montana State and get the Montana Grizzlies in Sacramento late in the year. Additionally, they play North Arizona, Northern Colorado and Southern Utah at home.
All in all, the Hornets are a legitimate contender for the postseason in 2013.