With so many complex game plans in college football today, it's important to remember that a team's core attributes can still give them the ultimate edge in outsmarting their opponents. Head coach Todd Graham is in the midst of just his second season as coach at Arizona State, but the team's lethal combination of speed and time of possession has catapulted them to the top tier of the Pac-12 Conference.
Prior to Graham's arrival last year, ASU had not won a bowl game since 2005. That all changed in a matchup against Navy in the 2012 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, a 62-28 blowout which seemed to encapsulate Graham and ASU's unique style of play. The Sun Devils are known for their ability to run off as many plays as possible in a short amount of time-exhausting their opponents, especially with a home field advantage in Tempe's desert heat conditions.
With an extremely competitive year in the Pac-12 and a tough schedule-this makes Graham's accomplishments all the more promising as a coach of the year candidate. With a win this past weekend, ASU clinched the title of Pac-12 South champions. The Sun Devils hold a 9-2 record and are among the nation's top teams in scoring offense, registering 41.9 points per game for 11th place overall. Graham fully developed his system with a breakout role as head coach at Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane took three out of four Conference USA West Division Championships from 2007-2010.
Beyond his invaluable on-field contributions, Graham has given the Tempe community a renewed focus on activism and charity involvement. It was reported that in Graham's first 120 days after he was hired, he made a remarkable 136 community appearances. This included anything from Greek life events, to youth football clinics, and even several emotional hospice visits. With each event, Graham continues to stress the spirit of giving and sets a wonderful example for his players.
Also of huge importance, Graham ran a student-specific initiative last season in an effort to bring college-age fans back to Sun Devil Stadium. This paid off in a huge way, as ASU saw a 20 percent increase in student attendance for its highest student attendance figure ever. The school also owned another nice accolade, with about 12,000 student season ticket holders, the most in the Pac-12 Conference.
Next up, the Sun Devils will face their neighboring rival Arizona on Nov. 30th in a regular season finale before heading to their first-ever Pac 12 Championship game. If ASU runs its system as usual and stays on the field, wearing down the Wildcats, they could be in for quite a long evening.