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The Athletic Finds Reason for Optimism, Concern for Arizona State

In a recent article from The Athletic, the Sun Devils have both cause for optimism and concern moving forward into 2022.

Recently, The Athletic published an article going through the entire Pac-12 and finding one reason for optimism and one reason for concern heading into the 2022 football season. 

Writer Antonio Morales had this to say on why you should be optimistic for the Arizona State Sun Devils next season: 

"The defense will suffer some personnel losses, but the unit had to play without some top contributors all season and still finished 17th in the FBS in yards per play allowed (4.94). 

"The Sun Devils were missing several key contributors at every level on defense in the Las Vegas Bowl and still played relatively well in that game, a 20-13 loss to Wisconsin. Kyle Soelle, Merlin Robertson and Eric Gentry should make up a solid linebacker group that should be the foundation of the defense. Defensive lineman Jermayne Lole’s return from a triceps injury will also provide a solid boost, too."

As for why Sun Devils fans should be concerned, Morales pointed out a few talking points that have been popular topics for Arizona State fans in recent months:

"Well, there are several. Quarterback Jayden Daniels seriously regressed in 2021 (10 touchdowns, 10 interceptions), and his yards per attempt has dropped nearly half a yard in each of the past two seasons as the quality of his receiving targets has diminished. The passing game’s struggles were a large reason why Arizona State failed to live up to expectations in 2021.

"An NCAA investigation that hovers over the program and has tanked recruiting can’t be overlooked, either. The Sun Devils’ 2022 recruiting class ranks 86th nationally two years after they finished 24th. Herm Edwards hasn’t delivered a breakthrough on the field and has landed Arizona State in trouble off of it, and that’s not the combination you want if you’re a Sun Devils fan."

As a whole, the entire Pac-12 hasn't exactly shined in bright light this season. Multiple head coaches were fired in-season for various reasons, heavy-hitters such as USC, Oregon and Washington failed to deliver, and the conference as a whole failed to win a bowl game. 

Arizona State, dubbed a sleeper team to win the Pac-12 in 2021 with similar expectations heading into 2022, will need to deliver in Edwards' fifth season at ASU.