ASU Football: Fallout from PAC-12 Media Days


During the last two days, the PAC-12 conducted their football media day event in Los Angeles, CA.  On both Thursday and Friday, a mixture of teams from both the North division and the South division were featured and allowed access by the media.  The ASU contingent consisted of coach Todd Graham, quarterback Mike Bercovici and safety Jordan Simone.  All three were interviewed extensively on Thursday.

Some Takeaways from the Media Days

1)  There is a lot of respect for the PAC-12 South Division.

Almost every guest on both days of media conversations with coaches, players and outside analysts revealed that the South Division (which consists of ASU, UofA, Utah, Colorado, USC and UCLA)  could be the deepest, toughest and most competitive sub-conference/division perhaps in the entire nation.  With the exception of Colorado, all of the other schools are considered contenders to win the South.  In fact, all of them received first place votes.  The records and the returning personnel back up that sentiment.

2)  There is healthy respect for ASU

The voters (who are mostly writers) picked USC to win the South.  The voters picked ASU to finish second, followed closely by UCLA, UofA and Utah.  However, the most visible analysts on the PAC-12 Network (Curtis Conway and Yogi Roth) both picked ASU to win the South.  They both also conceded that any of the above five teams could win the division.  The bottom line: ASU is not being overlooked.

3)  The experts are sleeping on UCLA

Despite the fact that UCLA was lumped into the group of five that could potentially win the South, there was very little hype around the Bruins.  Most likely, it is because of the loss of QB Brett Hundley to the NFL.  No doubt, there is some uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position for UCLA.  Newcomer and true freshman Josh Rosen is supposedly a legit mega-talent, but is unproven.  But besides the quarterback, UCLA returns many starters on both sides of the ball.  It may take a couple of games for the quarterback situation to get settled, but it would be a huge mistake to discount UCLA in any fashion.

4) No one mentioned the ASU receiver “problem”

This could be good or bad.  If the so-called experts are not worried about the departure of Jaelon Strong and the injury to Cameron Smith, perhaps ASU fans shouldn’t worry either.  Devils in Detail doesn’t believe that’s a realistic assumption.  Losing your two best receiving targets is a huge issue.  Strong was the best friend for ASU quarterbacks for two seasons.  Smith was essentially the only home-run threat for the Sun Devils.  Asking the remaining receivers to pick up the slack is a tall order.

Nevertheless, pick up the slack, they must.  Moving running back DJ Foster to receiver will help.  But that’s not where it ends.  Foster will need some help.  Ellis Jefferson, Gary Chambers and Eric Lauderdale absolutely must step up and deliver some of the hype that came with their recruitment.  Devils in Detail believes that wide receiver is the only true unproven position for this offensive unit, and thus the biggest question mark.

5)  The stage is set for ASU

For big-time college football, scheduling is critical.  This season, while the schedule is daunting, there are some positives.  The Sun Devils open up against Texas A&M in Houston, TX.  While that is realistically a “road game”, it’s a winnable game versus an SEC opponent.  The Aggies are in a bit of a state of flux right now.  Regardless of how good Texas A&M turns out to be, a win (or even a good showing) will earn ASU some respect.  Additionally, the Sun Devils get to play USC, Oregon and UofA at home this season.  That’s a big advantage.  The tough road games for ASU include UCLA and Utah.  In the end, as with every team, if ASU is going to be nationally ranked and win the South, they’ll have to earn it.  But the schedule certainly allows fans to be hopeful.