On Monday, the Sun Devils were rewarded for their Pac-12 South-winning season with a number of conference honors.
Arizona State took home two of the four major Pac-12 awards including another Defensive Player of the Year award for Will Sutton and a Coach of the Year nod for Todd Graham.
But the fun didn't stop there. The Sun Devils also had a conference-high 13 players make either the first or second team All-Pac-12 lists.
Sounds like a pretty good way to start your week don't you think? Well, our writers still aren't satisfied. And two were even surprised that a certain Sun Devil took home the hardware that he did:
Question: What surprised you the most about the All-Pac-12 honors announced Monday?
Cody Ulm: Davon Coleman only making honorable mention
You could probably make an equally compelling case for Gannon Conway missing out but I'm going to go with the snubbing of Davon Coleman. Coleman is tied for the fourth most sacks in conference play with Carl Bradford (Pac-12 second-team) at 7.5. The three men with more, Trent Murphy, Anthony Barr and Trevor Reilly, each earned first-team honors.
Coleman's 13.5 tackles for loss across the nine conference games rank as the fourth most in the Pac-12 ahead of the likes of Utah's Reilly (first-team), USC's Leonard Williams (first-team) and Devon Kennard (second-team), Stanford's Ben Gardner (first-team), Oregon State's Scott Crichton (second-team), Oregon's Taylor Hart (second-team), Washington's Hau'oli Kikaha (second-team). And did I mention that all of those gentlemen are defensive linemen as well?
Obviously stats don't tell the whole tale of a player's impact when you factor in that Will Sutton was able to take home another Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year trophy. But since we're on the subject, Coleman did have 4.5 more sacks and 3.5 more tackles for loss in Pac-12 play than the man who has twice been named the best defender in the conference.
Sure, you can say that Coleman wasn't nearly as flashy statistically speaking in out-of-conference play. But shouldn't 95% of All-Pac-12 honors be determined by how an athlete plays in, you know, THE CONFERENCE. So I can't exactly blame Coleman for expressing his displeasure with a word that rhymes with "dullspit" in a tweet that would later be deleted.
Even though there's no shame in making the cut for honorable mention, Coleman deserved a higher recognition in his final season.
Kerry Crowley: Will Sutton winning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Chris Young being left off first-team
I've been one of Sutton's biggest advocates this season and I have maintained he's been playing at a high level from the very beginning. However, I think Stanford's Trent Murphy was more deserving of the award. Sutton has enjoyed an outstanding season and he's stepped up in the fourth quarter of games, but I believe Murphy's consistency warrants some more recognition. I believe we'll see Murphy's name and not Sutton's on All-America lists when the time comes and that's when more folks will begin to realize that the award came as a surprise to many of us.
I was also surprised to see Chris Young on the second-team All-Pac-12 team. The conference decided to go with a 4-3 defensive look on its first-team. If the Pac-12 employed the 3-4 defense on its All-Conference team, I think Young would have been the obvious choice as the fourth linebacker. I think Young will be regarded as an Honorable Mention All-American in some circles this year because of what he's meant to the success of the Sun Devils. There's no denying Young's heart, leadership, and most of all, production and to see him on the second-team came as a bit of a surprise.
Ben Haber: Osahon Irabor only being named second-team All-Pac-12
Todd Graham has said time and time again that Irabor is the best cornerback he has ever coached. Irabor was placed on the Second-Team All Pac-12, but he easily should have been on the First-Team All-Pac-12. The art of man-to-man coverage is dying, as wide receivers continue to get bigger, stronger and faster. Yet Irabor rarely receives help and sticks with wide receivers at an uncanny rate. Regardless of the opponent, Irabor can hold his own with anyone.
Most quarterbacks avoid throwing at Irabor, which is the ultimate sign of respect. Teammate Robert Nelson earned a First-Team spot over Irabor and that makes no sense. Nelson came on strong in the later half of the season with six interceptions, but a lot of that production stems from Irabor. On the Arizona State roster, Irabor is clearly the premier cover man.
Overall, the selections were pretty fair and favorable for the Sun Devils. But at the same time, Irabor got an awfully raw deal.
Nick Krueger: Will Sutton winning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year over Anthony Barr
Unfortunately for Barr, he was overshadowed later in the year by freshman sensation Myles Jack which probably didn't help his case for the award but the statistics speak for themselves. Barr has 62 tackles while Sutton only wrapped up the opposing player 42 times. Sutton had 10.5 tackles for loss, Barr had 20. Sutton had three sacks, Barr had ten. Barr even forced five fumbles while Sutton didn't force any.
Sutton may be the moral leader of the Sun Devil defense but as a whole UCLA also performed better all season long. It's not about how the team performs, it's called "player" of the year for a reason. UCLA was ranked higher all season until two weeks ago. Head-to-head Barr, outperformed Sutton statistically in the Sun Devils' game against the Bruins as well. Barr had seven tackles, 2.5 of which were for negative yards, a fumble recovery and a sack. Sutton only had three tackles. I just don't think Sutton, who was part of a a rush defense that gave up 200 yards on three separate occasions can win defensive player of the year. He didn't even lead Arizona State in a single defensive category. In fact, the highest Sutton ranks in any of those categories is fourth in tackles. Barr leads UCLA in tackles for loss and sacks.
In the end, I think Sutton was riding a wave of momentum from last season. Despite playing different positions, the numbers may be somewhat skewed but Sutton suffered such a significant drop off from last year that he didn't deserve another defensive player of the year. Sure Sutton was double-teamed but does that mean offenses didn't pay attention to Barr for a majority of the year? Absolutely not.
For more Pac-12 award-season fun, check of these stories:
- Todd Graham wins Pac-12 Coach of the Year award
- Will Sutton wins second consecutive Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award
- 13 Sun Devils named All-Pac-12 Conference selections