Monday, February 20, 2017

Farewell to 2016: Arizona State Sun Devils

It was a season of highs and lows in the PAC-12 in 2016. The Washington Huskies turned a major corner, making it to the national semifinal before getting smothered by Alabama. The Huskies were one of four teams that won 10 games or more. On the flip side, half of the teams in the conference finished under .500, including two major surprise teams in Oregon and UCLA. The conference's prize QB, Josh Rosen, was injured for most of the season, and under performed when he was available, and Jake Browning became the new star QB of the conference until being upstaged by Sam Darnold at USC. The biggest story was the emergence of the Colorado Buffaloes, who shocked everyone by winning the South. Here is our farewell to the 2016 season, team by team, in the PAC-12...

Arizona State Sun Devils
5-7 (3-6)

2016 Schedule
Beat Northern Arizona 44-13
Beat Texas Tech 68-55
Beat UTSA 32-28
Beat California 51-41
Lost to USC 41-20
Beat UCLA 23-20
Lost to Colorado 40-16
Lost to Washington State 37-32
Lost to Oregon 54-35
Lost to Utah 49-26
Lost to Washington 44-18
Lost to Arizona 56-35

MVP Offense: RB Kalen Ballage
Considering the fact that ASU averaged 33.3 points per game in 2016, it was very difficult to find any one player that stood out on offense. Ballage ended up as my pick for the simple fact that he managed to rush for 14 TDs on just 10.5 carries per game. Otherwise, Ballage only ran for 536 yards, and averaged 4.25 yards per carry. He did manage to catch 44 passes for 469 yards and one more score to his totals on offense. He scored 7 rushing TDs in the win over Texas Tech where the Sun Devils scored 68 points. 
MVP Defense: LB DJ Calhoun
The Sun Devil defense was nothing short of a train wreck, as they allowed 39.8 points per game. Calhoun was the lone major standout on defense. He led the team with 77 tackles, 11.5 TFLs, and had 4.5 sacks. He was nothing special at all in pass coverage, but then again, nobody else was either.  Others of Note
Manny Wilkins was not special as a sophomore at QB, and missed 2 full game and a part of another. He only managed to pass for 12 scores, but threw 9 INTs. He did manage to pass for 2329 yards and completed 63.3% of his passes, but was largely uneven in 2016.
Demario Richard was the narrow leader in rushing with just 593 yards and a 3.83 yards per carry average. ASU averaged just 131.5 yards rushing per game, placing too much pressure on their passing game. 
Tim White posted a receiving line of 56-713-2, while N'Keal Harry posted 58-659-5.
The Sun Devils ended the season with just 16 team passing TDs. They allowed 33.
The Sun devils did win the battle of efficiency in tackles, as they averaged 59.25 per game, but forced the opposition into making 68.67 per contest.
The Sun Devils lost every other battle on defense, as they allowed 163.08 yards rushing per game, and got torched for 357.4 yards passing per game. 
Jo Jo Wicker recorded 11 TFLs, while Koron Crump added 10.5, giving ASU three players in double figures in this category. 
The ASU line allowed 90 total TFLs on the season, and gave up 41 sacks. 
The Sun Devils fumbled just 5 times all season.  Best Win: UTSA 32-28
This was the best win on the resume simply for the fact that UTSA was the only team that ASU beat that went to a bowl game, and only just barely. As far as quality of wins goes, this is not very high, but it was the best shot they had, and they barely got by it.  Worst Loss: Arizona 56-35
Losing to Arizona was bad enough, but at this point, the Sun Devils had lost 6 straight, and it became fairly obvious that the team just simply had quit. It is a bad sign of things to come in 2017, because the roster is not much better. 2017 Non Conference Schedule: 8/31 New Mexico State, 9/9 San Diego State, 9/16 at Texas Tech
The Sun Devils should be able to get by New Mexico State easily enough, but I would project them as losers to what should be a very strong San Diego State program in 2017. The Texas Tech game will be a no defense effort on either side, but the roles could flip with Arizona State going to Lubbock. If ASU starts 1-2, calls will be made for Todd Graham's job. 

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