This is the first of many Milestone Mondays this summer in which our staff will debate if a given statistical goal is an achievable feat for a certain Arizona State football player. To get the party started will be Will Sutton with the lofty goal of 15 sacks.
Player: Senior DT Will Sutton
Goal: 15 Sacks
Notes: Last season, Sutton recorded 13 sacks, but was also hampered by injuries. Jarvis Jones led the NCAA with 14.5 sacks. In 2011, defensive end Whitney Marcellus was the only player to hit 15 sacks as he had 16 for Illinois. In 2010, Da'Quan Bowers was the only player with 15 sacks as he had 15.5 for Clemson.
Kerry Crowley: After watching Sutton play when healthy, it's hard to imagine that there's a more dominant defensive lineman this side of Jadaveon Clowney. That being said, I think it's much easier for a defensive player to burst onto the scene and achieve 15 sacks than it is for a proven commodity like Sutton to do so. Every team will be game planning around Sutton because he's the All-American. A lot of things will have to go right for him, but I still think that 15 sacks is attainable.
Step one will be an immediate impact from Carl Bradford and Jaxon Hood. If that duo can prove that they can get to the quarterback, it's no longer as easy for offenses to stop Sutton. Step two will be staying healthy. We all know about Sutton's injuries from last season, so it's important that he does what he can to play smart football. I think 15 sacks is attainable, but I think it's a lot more likely that we see 10 apiece from Sutton, Bradford, and Hood.
Ryan Bafaloukos: This is a difficult one for me because a lot of how Sutton plays this season is dependent on others. Does every team double team him, leaving Bradford and Hood 1-on-1? Are Bradford, Coleman, Hood Onyeali (etc.) able to have enough production to stop teams from doubling Sutton.
I do agree with Kerry though that I do not think this is likely. Once everyone knows how good you are, they will do everything they can to take you away and I believe that is what happens with Sutton. I think 10-12 is a number easily obtainable by Sutton.
Cody Ulm: There's absolutely no way Sutton hits 15 sacks. With the way teams will be game-planning for him, I'd be proud if he manages to compile a 10-sack season. Like you both touched on, I believe that means Bradford and Hood will be the main beneficiaries of his presence and could see a nice bump in their QB takedown totals. But I just can't imagine a scenario in which Sutton's 2013 is on par with his 2012.
For a player to have a 15 sack season like that, they usually have to come out of no where. Furthermore, that player is usually coming off the edge, not rushing the passer by trying to collapse the interior line. Don't get me wrong; I don't think Sutton's 2012 was a fluke or anything. I just don't think his position and circumstances will lead to statistical improvements even with another year in the system.
Ben Haber: Sorry boss man Kerry Crowley, you set the over-under too high on Will Sutton's sacks at 15. Therefore, the entire staff came to a rare unanimous decision here. Sutton posted 13 sacks last season, and that's extremely rare for an interior defensive lineman. Nobody can be expected to accumulate 15 sacks, not even the nation's most dominant player and pass rusher in Jadeveon Clowney.
Opposing offenses used to be unfamiliar with Sutton, but teams know him well now, meaning coaches will devise a game plan based around locating #90. Carl Bradford is more likely to get 15 sacks than Sutton, simply based on the difference in positions. Although, I strongly doubt either happens.
Sacks make the highlights and are undeniably game changers, but Sutton should be more focused on helping stop the run. ASU defensive coordinator Paul Randolph will bring plenty of pressure, per usual, yet I believe the wealth to spread out. Don't get me wrong, I still expect Sutton to earn All-American honors and wreck havoc.
Mitch Terrell: Will Sutton will have, at best, the same amount of sacks as he did last season, barring he remains healthy. Like everyone has stated, offensive coordinators will directly create a game plan around Sutton considering the Sun Devils have not had any other stand-out players on defense other than Brandon Magee last season. While we all see Carl Bradford as a threat and a potential star this season, I feel the majority of the attention will be spent on #90.
I agree with Ben that Bradford is more likely to reach 15 then Sutton. I don't think it is any secret the schedule is more grueling in 2013 compared to 2012, thus making that feat that much harder.
While we all express our doubts of 15 sacks being obtainable, we have all seen the beast Sutton was last season, even after missing several games. We never got to witness his real, true test last season against Oregon's All-American offensive line. However, the thing that makes me antsy as ever to see if he can do the unthinkable is what we did see in one play during that Oregon game: a strip fumble on the very first play that took Sutton out for the remainder of the game.