Early Preview: San Diego State vs Arizona State
The San Diego State Aztecs face-off against the Arizona State Sun Devils on September 15 in San Diego.
San Diego State will go up against back-to-back Pac-12 opponents in week 3 of the college football season.
San Diego State plays host to Arizona State which comes in with a new look.
Who is Arizona State in 2018?
Arizona State was backseat in the Pac-12 south to leader USC but ended bowl eligible at 7-6, placing 6th in the Pac-12. Arizona State had a mediocre season that ended in a blowout against North Carolina State in the Sun Bowl.
The Sun Devils look like the same team that the Aztecs upset in 2017. On offense, they remain committed to the spread. They added Casey Tucker from Stanford to bulk up an offensive line that struggled to protect quarterback Manny Wilkins. Wide receivers N’Keal Harry, Kyle Williams and Jalen Harvey all come back with more experience and ready to make an impact.
The major impact is their head coach.
After not making strides to capture the Pac-12 South, Arizona State fired the coaching staff and brought in former NFL coach Herm Edwards. Edwards put his sports broadcasting career on pause and re-entered football in Tempe. A key coaching move for Edwards was recruiting Danny Gonzales, defensive coordinator at San Diego State, to make a jump with him at Arizona State.
Amongst the defensive changes is installing a version of Rocky Long’s 3-3-5 defense. Expect a learning curve and adjustments in the first part of the season, right when the Aztecs line up against them.
On the defensive side of the ball, the point of emphasis will be on the line and in the secondary. Renell Wren is a massive guy (6’5”, 270lbs) at the center of the of line and looks to be solid NFL prospect. Their defense looks suspect, especially since the 2017 squad came in as the 107th ranked defense in yards allowed and the 88th ranked defense in points per game allowed. There’s a lot to be desired in the defensive rebuild.
The special teams look suspect and in need of help. Their average kick return hovers around 20 yards and without a touchdown.
ESPN has ranked Arizona State’s non-conference as 6th toughest amongst the Power-5 conference squads.*
San Diego State hosts a changing Arizona State team. The defense might look the same as theirs, but in their infancy, the Aztecs have the advantage. With a strong starter in Juwan Washington, and a defense that’s been installed and working. The advantage leans toward San Diego State. The spotlight here is all on Herm Edwards. The Aztecs thrive in moments like these, so expect San Diego State to put up up a fight and win by 9.
*San Diego State getting the respect nationally: ESPN ranked Stanford’s non-conference 7th toughest and also cites the home opener against San Diego State a tough opener.