Arizona State's offense is up for debate in 2022.
If you're an optimist, you'll point to significant adds such as quarterback Emory Jones, tight end Messiah Swinson and running back Xazavian Valladay as key players for the Sun Devils to rally behind this season. All have displayed upside in their previous homes before transferring to Tempe.
If you're pessimistic, you'll see this ASU offense will look nothing like it did (schematically or personnel speaking) in 2021.
Now, that could be argued as a good or bad thing depending on what lens you view it from.
ESPN's Bill Connelly recently released his Pac-12 South preview for the upcoming season and highlighted ASU's turnover rate on the offensive side of the ball as one of his burning questions for 2022.
Will Roster Turnover Haunt Arizona State's Offense in 2022?
"What's left of the Arizona State offense? Jayden Daniels handing the ball to Rachaad White, frequently running himself behind the all-conference duo of left guard Dohnovan West and left tackle Kellen Diesch and throwing to Ricky Pearsall, LV Bunkley-Shelton and White, all with plays called by Zak Hill. That was the Arizona State offense in 2021, and it worked pretty well. The Sun Devils ranked first nationally in rushing success rate and sixth in three-and-out percentage; a lack of big plays stalled some drives and resulted in a No. 36 ranking in offensive SP+, but with Daniels and his receivers scheduled to return, along with backup running back DeaMonte Trayanum, that seemed like something to build around," said Connelly.
"None of the people in the previous paragraph are playing or coaching for Herm Edwards' Sun Devils in 2022. Hill and many other assistants, including defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce, resigned due to findings of NCAA violations, and a number of starters on both sides of the ball transferred. ASU has fallen from 32nd in returning production in February to 93rd today, and while transfer portal additions have helped keep the talent level afloat -- among them are quarterbacks Emory Jones (Florida) and Paul Tyson (Alabama), running back Xazavian Valladay (Wyoming), offensive guard Chris Martinez (SDSU), defensive tackle Nesta Jade Silvera (Miami) and nickel Khoury Bethley (Hawaii) -- the turnover has been immense.
"The defense still has depth up front and playmakers in linebackers Kyle Soelle and Merlin Robertson, but the offense is starting from scratch, right down to offensive coordinator Glenn Thomas, who joined the program in February. Jones (or Tyson) and the duo of Valladay and Daniyel Ngata could form a solid backfield, but the receiving corps is unproven and the best linemen are gone.
"There might still be a top-50 team here, but it's hard to say that with confidence."
We've yet to see Jones officially practice with the Sun Devils since he transferred after the spring practice period ended, and Arizona State is banking on some of their potential playmakers at receiver to step up after only bringing in Vandy's Cam Johnson via the transfer portal.
As for the offensive line, major losses were undoubtedly had, but ASU is confident in the big men they brought in to get the job done.
Returning guard LaDarius Henderson was also confident in his unit when he spoke to reporters last week.
“The mentality with this offensive line might be the best we have had yet,” said Henderson.
Valladay brings a promising light to a Sun Devils backfield that already held talents like Ngata and George Hart III. Incoming freshman Tevin White is also an exciting prospect.
If there's one thing Arizona State should be able to do in its sleep, it's run the football. That shouldn't change much.
The only constant in life is change, and although college football programs were already accustomed to talented players leaving after three years, the Sun Devils are now taking a crash course in the world of NIL deals and the transfer portal's immediate eligibility rule.
The potential is there for ASU to progress offensively in 2022, but will the unknown ultimately come back to haunt them? Sink or swim is the motto when it comes to learning on the go, and time will tell if Arizona State's new pieces will be able to keep the offense afloat.