azcentral sports’ Jeff Metcalfe takes a look at some pressing issues for the Sun Devils heading into 2017.
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Jeff Metcalfe takes a closer look at some of the top issues surrounding the Sun Devils football team. Video: azcentral sports
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Wide receivers, including John Humphrey and Ryan Newsome, were the headliners Saturday at the Arizona State football spring game.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, David Kadlubowski/Arizona Republic
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Offensive highlights from ASU’s spring game on Saturday.
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Hyperlapse of ASU’s spring football game.
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Here’s what you need to know before you head to ASU’s Spring Game and Fan Fest on Saturday.
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Arizona State head football coach Todd Graham talks about his team’s second spring scrimmage on Friday, April 7. Video: Jeff Metcafle/azcentral sports
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The college football season doesn’t start until the fall but it’s never too early to start looking ahead.
USA TODAY Sports
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Here are the five best college football recruiting classes in the last decade of “National Signing Day”.
USA TODAY Sports
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ASU football coach Todd Graham talks about Demario Richard, Christian Hill and more after spring practice on Wednesday, April 5.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, Nick Oza/Arizona Republic
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ASU defensive line coach Michael Slater gives instructions to his players at Monday’s workout in Tempe. Video: azcentral sports
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Coach Todd Graham says defense came out ahead by limiting big plays during ASU’s first spring scrimmage on Wednesday. Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports
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Arizona State football completed its sixth spring practice Friday at Sun Devil Stadium with nine practices remaining over the next three weeks. The spring game is April 15.
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ASU football coach Todd Graham discusses hiring Danny White and Dave Christensen as consultants. Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports
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Arizona State football has completed a third of spring practice, five of its allowed 15 practices.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, Rob Schumacher/Arizona Republic
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Arizona State football began the second week of spring practice Monday. The Sun Devils also will practice Wednesday and have a closed scrimmage Friday this week.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe/Arizona Republic
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Wide receivers Ryan Newsome and John Humphrey – transfers to Arizona State from Texas and Oklahoma – discuss playing as sophomores in 2017 after sitting out last season. Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, David Wallace/Arizona Republic
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Quarterback Blake Barnett, a transfer from Alabama, is in his first year at Arizona State. He is competing with four returners to be the starting QB.
Credit: Jeff Metcalfe, Rob Schumacher, Nick Oza, Thomas Hawthorne/Arizona Republic
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Arizona State head coach Todd Graham discusses the first day of football spring practice on March 14, 2017 at the Kajikawa Practice Facility in Tempe, Ariz. By Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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ASU football begins sixth season under coach Todd Graham with five new assistant coaches. (Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports)
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Transfer quarterback Blake Barnett talks about coming to ASU to compete for the starting job on Wednesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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Arizona State offensive coordinator Billy Napier discusses the first day of football spring practice on March 14, 2017 at the Kajikawa Practice Facility in Tempe, Ariz. By Rob Schumacher/azcentral sports
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ASU football coach Todd Graham talks about the challenge of hiring “good people” and losing them to other schools entering ASU’s 2017 season on Wednesday. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral sports
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ASU football: 5 areas of concern
5 observations from ASU spring football
Wide receivers shine in ASU football spring game
ASU shows off some offense in spring game
Sights from ASU football’s spring game
2017 ASU Spring Game & Fan Fest
Todd Graham: ‘The big thing is to get better fundamentally’
Early preseason top 10 college football teams for 2017
Ranking the best college football recruiting classes in the last decade
ASU coach Graham on Richard, Hill and more
ASU defensive line coach Michael Slater gives instructions at practice
Todd Graham speaks after ASU holds first spring scrimmage
ASU football completes second week of spring practice
Todd Graham on new consultants White, Christensen
ASU football completes fifth spring practice
ASU football begins second week of spring practice
ASU WRs Ryan Newsome and John Humphrey discuss eligibility
ASU QB Blake Barnett on starting spring
Todd Graham on opening of ASU spring practice
ASU football opens spring practice
Transfer QB Blake Barnett on coming to ASU to compete
Billy Napier discusses first day of ASU practice
Todd Graham talks staffing challenges, 2017 season
azcentral sports’ Jeff Metcalfe covered Arizona State’s spring football practices.
What are some areas of concern? Here are five things to examine.
This is Part 2 of a series. Scroll to the bottom for the full schedule.
The back end
Nothing would be more rewarding and significant than for the personnel and coaching resources being invested in the secondary to pay off with:
- A position group that tackles better.
- Comes up with more takeaways.
- Is not last nationally in passing yards allowed.
With seven new defensive backs on board for fall camp, there is hope but also plenty of unknowns.
Is there enough depth to absorb injuries particularly at linebacker, where only DJ Calhoun started every game last season?
That remains an uncertainty even after extensive development work in the spring with Malik Lawal, Khaylan Thomas and Deion Guignard.
Incoming LB Kyle Soelle may need to break through for competition and injury protection.
Quarterback was such a snakebit position in 2016 that Dillon Sterling-Cole was forced to give up his redshirt year, the Sparky formation was used all over the field and walk-on wide receiver Jack Smith took some snaps at his high school position.
With the addition of transfer Blake Barnett, QB is more stable and competitive.
Now it’s a question of productivity no matter who wins the starting job.
ASU signed some promising offensive linemen under former O-line coach Chris Thomsen, now at TCU.
Those players are under the development of Rob Sale for now and the near future since only two in the post-spring depth chart are seniors.
To take advantage of skill players, particularly at running back, the O-line must stay healthy to gain cohesiveness and perform better (ASU was No. 112 in rush offense and No. 123 in sacks allowed in 2016).
ASU has done a fine job lining up replacements for Groza Award-winning kicker Zane Gonzalez and punter Matt Haack.
But Brandon Ruiz, for all his high-school credentials, is a freshman facing much greater pressure while Michael Sleep-Dalton hasn’t punted in a game since 2015.
If they come close to their potential, special teams will remain a plus at least from the kicking standpoint for years to come.
The full series
• Top 5 concerns to be addressed this fall
• Top 10 players to watch in 2017
• 5 players who may surprise in 2017
• Top 5 newcomers for 2017
• A breakdown of the 2017 schedule