Pitchfork Notepad: ASU Preview Before PAC-12 Media Day

Arizona Sports News online

Ahhhhhh the College Football season is almost here. You can feel it in the air in Tempe, regardless of what’s going on with the current NCAA Investigation. Expectations for the team are high. Like really high.

PAC-12 media day is tomorrow in Los Angeles. Coach Herm Edwards, quarterback Jayden Daniels and corner Chase Lucas will be speaking to the media for Arizona State University.

Ahead of media day, here’s some storylines to start following ahead of the Sun Devils 2021-22 season.

Preseason award watch lists

Let’s start with Daniels and Lucas. The junior QB is expecting to take a leap forward this year and national writers believe he will. He’s on the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year) and the Davey O’Brien Award (National Quarterback of the Year). Daniels is known for his efficiency, posting a 22-3 passing touchdown to interception ratio in 16 career starts. To boot, he’s also a threat with his legs with seven rushing touchdowns and 578 yards on the ground. While he’s a consistent big-play maker in the fourth quarter of games, he’ll need to show improvement throughout the other three quarters in games. That’s how he’ll reach the level it takes to win or be nominated for the above awards while raising his NFL draft stock.

Lucas is going to be the first five year starter for ASU. After opting to skip the draft and return to school, Lucas was named a team captain. This is something he holds dear to his heart after not being named one last year. He’s a preseason nominee for the Bednarik Award (College Defensive Player of the Year) and the Jim Thorpe Award (Top Defensive Back). While he wants to raise his draft stock throughout this season, Lucas has previously preached how much winning means to him. That was ingrained in him during his time at Chandler High School. Winning is where is heart is at.

In four games last year, 2-2, the Sun Devils backfield put the nation on notice. The dynamic duo is Rachaad White and DeaMonte Trayanum. White, a  junior and JUCO transfer, exploded onto the D1 scene last year with 440 yards and five touchdowns while averaging 10 yards per carry. Trayanum, a sophomore now, is the bruiser compared to the speedy White. Both are on the lookout for the Doak Walker Award (Nation’s Top College Running Back). 

There are two other preseason award watch lists made by Sun Devils. Junior center Dohnovan West is up for the Rimington Trophy (Nation’s Top Center). Senior linebacker Merlin Robertson is on the Butkus Award (Top Linebacker) watch list. West is making the move from interior guard to center this season. Despite that position change, coaches are raving about what he’s going to do this year. Robertson was the 2018 PAC-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and was an impact player in 2020. He anchors a defensive front that surprised many last year.

Schedule 

The Sun Devil’s season begins on September 2, which is a Thursday. They’re opening up at home with Southern Utah as nine point favorites. The rest of the non-conference schedule consists of UNLV (home) on September 11, and Brigham Young University (road) on September 18. The games against BYU is set to air on ESPN. 

After finishing 2-2 last season while only playing PAC-12 opponents, ASU is looking for redemption. The home games are against Colorado, Stanford, Washington State, USC, and Arizona. They’ll face UCLA, Utah, Washington, and Oregon State (of course it’s Corvallis in November) on the road.

Outside of the BYU game, the matchups between UNLV and Stanford (Oct. 8) are the only nationally televised appearances for the Sun Devils.

Anything change since spring ball?

I wrote five takeaways when the spring game concluded back in March (read here).

Every college football player in the country hits the weight room hard during the offseason. However, players like White and Trayanum seem to have really bought into the Sun Devils’ workout routine.

As I stated back in March, talk is cheap. White went dark on social media at one point. Others are all over posting their workouts. Neither tactic is right or wrong, but we’ll see what this team does come September 2. Not just what they talk about. Edwards has high expectations. So does Ray Anderson. And the boosters. Plus the fans. 

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Follow myself (@spurge_), Claudia Faust (@claudianfaust), and Brad Cesmat (@bradcesmat) on Twitter for all updates from PAC-12 media day on July 27.

Jordan Spurgeon is a journalist who is graduating from ASU at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in December 2021. He enjoys covering sports all across the valley and telling feature stories that impact people.