Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Arizona State.
Spring practice begins: Tuesday, March 13
Spring game: Saturday, April 21
Returning starters: Five on offense, four on defense and both specialists.
Three Things To Watch For:
1. New coaching staff takes over in Tempe. Let's face it, new Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham did not exactly ride into town on a high-horse amid much fanfare. There was the messy exit from Pittsburgh, the feeling among many in the valley of the sun that he was a second (or third or fourth) choice by an administration on shaky ground and the fact that columnists from coast-to-coast ripped the hire. Despite the duress, Graham has handled the negativity well and finally gets to hit the field and coach. There's added pressure given what has happened but it's also a fresh start for the entire staff as they look to awaken a program many have labeled as a "sleeping giant."
2. Rebuilding the defense. Entering 2011, the talk was that Arizona State had one of the best defenses in the Pac-12. That led to, by the end of the season, a few discussions centered on how the team had one of the most underachieving units in the conference if not the nation. Gone from that group are talented-but-reckless linebacker Vontaze Burfict, leading tackler Colin Parker and a top defensive back in Clint Floyd. There will be plenty of position battles this spring and several of the incoming freshman might end up as contributors but getting a healthy Brandon Magee at linebacker to go with defensive tackle Corey Adams will help.
3. Quarterback derby. The surprise departure of Brock Osweiler - he's 6-foot-7 by the way - to the NFL has created a quarterback competition this spring that will likely extend into fall camp. Nobody on the roster has started a game at the position and Graham has said that each will get equal reps until someone emerges so it's a wide open race between sophomores Mike Bercovici and