Here's how ASU football's 2014 season will play outPosted: Updated:
Tonight, Arizona State opens up the 2014 season as they host Weber State. The defending Pac-12 South champions enter the year with high hopes and the No. 19 ranking in the AP Poll, yet major concerns about a rebuilding defense cast plenty of question upon the season.
Here's how I think this year will play out for ASU.
Final Regular Season Record: 8-4
Division Finish: Second in Pac-12 South behind UCLA
Final AP Poll: 22nd
Passing Leader: Taylor Kelly (3,700 yards, 31 touchdowns 10 interceptions)
Rushing Leader: D.J. Foster (1,350 yards, 13 touchdowns)
Receiving Leader: Jaelen Strong (80 catches, 1,250 yards, 12 touchdowns)
Tackles Leader: Salamo Fiso (105)
Sack Leader: Marcus Hardison (6)
TFL Leader: D.J. Calhoun (16)
Interception Leader: Damarious Randall (4)
Offensive Player of the Year: Foster. He'll emerge as one of the best playmakers not just in the Pac-12, but in the nation. He should cross 1,800 yards from scrimmage.
Defensive Player of the Year: Randall. One of the few known commodities on the defense, Randall is poised to make the leap from a good 2013 to a great 2014.
Newcomer of the Year: Calhoun. The true freshman will continue the playmaking tradition at WILL, with 85 tackles and 5.5 sacks.
Breakout Player of the Year: Lloyd Carrington. Now a starter, Carrington will continue the recent success the team has had at cornerback.
First-Team All-Pac-12: RB D.J Foster, WR Jaelen Strong, LT Jamil Douglas, S Damarious Randall, K Zane Gonzalez
Second-Team All-Pac-12: LG Christian Westerman, LB Salamo Fiso, CB Lloyd Carrington, DT Tashon Smallwood
Weber State - Win: This one will be over by halftime, and a good chance for the depth chart to get plenty of reps.
at New Mexico - Win: A tougher second test for the Sun Devils, but one they should be able to handle with relative ease.
at Colorado - Win: Colorado is heading in the right direction (somewhat), but they are still a ways away from being able to keep up with the ASU offense in Week 3.
UCLA - Loss: Like their previous battle in Tempe, this will likely be a case of who has the ball last. If ASU's defense can use the first three games to get up to speed, they'll have a chance at the upset.
at USC - Loss: The Trojans are somewhat overrated heading into 2014, but that doesn't mean that they don't have great talent. In an exciting game, USC gets the narrow win.
Stanford - Loss: The Cardinal are still the Cardinal, and while ASU is better prepared to handle the physicality this time around, it won't be enough.
at Washington - Win: The Husky offense won't be able to keep up with the Sun Devil attack, and ASU gets a comfortable road win.
Utah - Win: In last year's road game, the Ute defense smothered the Sun Devil offense in the near-upset. They won't have the same success in Tempe this year.
Notre Dame - Win: It'll be payback time for ASU when they host the Irish.
at Oregon State - Loss: Corvallis is a tough place to play, and in a high-scoring battle of gunslingers, Sean Mannion edges out a win over Kelly.
Washington State - Win: This will be a fun game. The Pirate in the Palouse and his band of Cougars will push the ASU defense to the limit, but the homefield edge and better offensive talent give ASU the win.
at Arizona - Win: It'll be a lot harder for ASU to beat their rivals this year, and the Wildcats will push the Sun Devils to the limit. However, the Territorial Cup will remain in Tempe for another year.