Devin Lucien a quiet bright spot in struggling ASU offense


Anyone who has watched the Arizona State Sun Devils for even the slightest stretch of time this season has noted their issues on offense. Whether it’s playcalling, personnel issues, poor execution, or a combination of the three is irrelevant when simply declaring that this offense has taken an enormous step back from what they had hoped to be following the departure of Jaelen Strong.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t positives, though. While Strong’s absence is felt immensely at every possible moment, and the passing game is still a work in progress, the Sun Devils should be very satisfied with the production that they’ve received from UCLA graduate transfer Devin Lucien thus far in 2015.

It took a bit to get acclimated to the offense, and he had an issue with a hamstring a few weeks ago that lingered, but we’ve seen the results of Lucien’s progress throughout the year. At no point have his development and chemistry with Mike Bercovici been more evident than against the Utah Utes this past weekend. While the scoreboard illustrated disappointment for the Sun Devils, Lucien proved to be a catalyst for that side of the ball.

Lucien had his best game, in terms of yardage, against the Utes, finishing with six receptions for 118 yards on the night. Those six catches were just one off of his seven that he had against Cal Poly earlier this year, which represents his highest total of the season. Saturday marked his third consecutive game with a reception of at least 20 yards, with gains of 23, 21, and 42 over those past three weeks, respectively. Given the shortcomings of the ASU offense, and the apparent unwillingness to get the ball down the field through the air, that’s fairly significant.

On the season, Devin Lucien has gone for 26 receptions for 338 yards and one touchdown. He’s three off of his previous career high in catches and just a yard behind his single season career mark, both of which were obviously recorded during his days as a Bruin.

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Lucien’s emergence is a fascinating, and an important, development for the Sun Devils. Jaelen Strong’s departure was always going to sting. The hope was that some depth would step up, and D.J. Foster‘s transition to wide receiver might help to mitigate some of those potential problems. That hasn’t happened.

Foster has been limited and Tim White is a player with great speed, but has had issues with drops in the passing game. While Gary Chambers has been an underrated piece, Lucien’s emergence could be a gamechanger for Bercovici and the scuffling Arizona State offense. Lucien trails Foster by six for the team lead in receptions, but leads the team in receiving yards. That really indicates everything you’d need to know about the state of the Arizona State offense and Lucien’s role in it.

It’s unfortunate that this is only a one year thing for Devin Lucien and that he doesn’t have the opportunity to be a building block for this offense. He has the skill set to be a quality piece for this team for the remainder of the season, though, and should continue to see an enhanced role now that he’s established that chemistry with Bercovici and has emerged as a key contributor in an offense that sorely needed one.

Randy Holt is the managing editor for Devils in Detail. You can follow him on Twitter @RandallPnkfloyd.