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ASU Football: Revisiting our 2017 preseason local media roundtable

That was funny.

Arizona v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

August 28th feels like yesterday, no? That was three days prior to the start of the Arizona State Sun Devils’ 2017 season when we predicted how it’d all play out.

Let’s go back four months and revisit all of our predictions.

Some, well most of us, were well off, making this experiment hilarious. Almost all of us thought Kalen Ballage would put on some 2016 Texas Tech type performance all season and Blake Barnett would get a few starts. We also gambled on what it would take to get Todd Graham off the hot seat.

We used point system to see who predicted the 2017 season the best (hint: it definitely wasn’t me.)

The Sun Devils’ season played out a bit different than expected. Let’s take a look:

Our Panel

Brad Denny - Former House of Sparky Editor/3 TV Sports Writer - (@BDenny29)
Josiah Destin - House of Sparky Co-Managing editor (@jdestinsports)
Maxwell Madden - House of Sparky Co-Managing editor (@MaxwelMadden)
Matthew Tonis - House of Sparky Football Writer (@Tonis_The_Tiger)
Justin Toscano - Devils Digest Football Writer (@JustinCToscano)
Kaelen Jones - Sun Devil Source Football Writer (@KaelenJones)
Ryan Clarke - Walter Cronkite Sports Network Football Writer (@RyanTClarke)
Jack Harris - Walter Cronkite Sports Network Football Writer (@Jack_A_Harris)
Anthony Totri - State Press Football Writer (@Anthony_Totri)
Mark Harris - State Press Football Writer (@Harris_Mark7)
Zach Pekale - Devils in Detail Football Writer (@ZachPekale)
Jordan Kaye - Devils in Detail Football Writer (@JordanKaye_23)

Round 1

Over/Under (Correct response worth 2 points per question)

  • O/U: 8 touchdowns for N’Keal Harry

Under (7 TDs): Kaye, Madden, Tonis

  • O/U: 800 yards for Demario Richard

Over (977 yards): Denny, Tonis, Jones, Clarke, J. Harris, M. Harris

  • O/U: Four starts for Blake Barnett

Under (zero): Denny, Toscano, Jones, J. Harris, M. Harris, Pekale, Destin, Madden, Tonis

  • O/U: 30 total team sacks

Over (35): Denny, Toscano, Madden, Totri, Kaye

  • O/U: 15 Passing TDs for an ASU QB

Over (Wilkins threw 17 TDs): Denny, Toscano, M. Harris, Pekale, Destin, Madden

  • O/U: Three 55-yard FGs for Brandon Ruiz

Under (zero): Denny, Toscano, Jones, Clarke, M. Harris, J. Harris, Pekale, Madden, Tonis

  • O/U: 10 TDs for Kalen Ballage

Under (six): Kaye

Round One Results

1. Denny (10), Madden (10) 2. Toscano (8), Tonis (8), M. Harris (8) 3. Kaye (6), Jones (6), J. Harris (6) Pekale (6), the rest: Destin (4), Clarke (4), Totri (2)

Round 2

Individual Awards (Correct response get 5 points)

  • Touchdowns leader

Correct answer: Manny Wilkins with 17 (none) ...... (ALL and I mean every single one of us put Ballage... Except for Kaye. He put Wilkins)

  • Leader in receptions

Correct answer: N’Keal Harry with 73 (ALL of us... Except for me)

  • Leader in carries

Correct answer: Demario Richard (Denny, Jones, J. Harris, M. Harris, Kaye, Destin, Madden, Tonis),

  • Leader in tackles

Correct answer: Christian Sam (Denny, J. Harris, Totri, M. Harris, Kaye, Madden, Tonis)

  • Leader in sacks

Correct answer: A.J. Latu (ALL of us put Crump... ALL of us were wrong.)

  • Leader in interceptions

Correct answer: Chad Adams & Chase Lucas (Jones, Clarke, J. Harris and Kaye)

  • Freshman of the year

Correct answer: Just because near everyone put Brandon Ruiz or Eno Benjamin, we’re giving it to the, very well deserved, Chase Lucas (Totri).

Round two results

1. Kaye (26), 2. J. Harris (21), 3. Denny (20), Madden (20), the rest: M. Harris (18), Tonis (18) Jones (16), Destin (9), Clarke (9), Toscano (8) Totri (7), Pekale (6),

Round 3

Short Answers (5 points awarded for most profound/accurately predictive segment)

Q: How do you envision the quarterback battle playing out?

M. Harris: Todd Graham said, "Like I said, I've said it 100 times, we have a starting quarterback. The guy behind him has to beat him out." That starting quarterback he's talking about is Manny Wilkins, so expect Wilkins to be the starter.

Pekale: This is Manny Wilkins’s job to lose.... it seems unlikely that Wilkins will surrender the job. I don’t see Alabama transfer Blake Barnett doing enough to pry the starting role from Wilkins.

Madden: Manny Wilkins has proven across spring camp and well into summer practice to be the best option for the Sun Devils under center this season. Unless Brady White miraculously recovers from his injury rather quickly and Blake Barnett ascends to the level of rushing talent that Wilkins is for Graham's scheme, Wilkins should take the majority of snaps from behind center this season.

Q: Will ASU improve from back-to-back seasons as the worst passing defense in the nation?

Note: The ASU secondary ranked at No. 120 of 130 in the nation in pass defense this season. Is that an improvement? Nope.

Clarke: It’s hard to imagine this team improving in the secondary after losing Kareem Orr to transfer and Armand Perry... Maybe fresh faces and an adjusted scheme will help, but a combination of inexperience and lack of talent will ultimately be this group’s downfall. It’s looking like a three-peat for this group as the worst passing defense in the FBS.

J. Harris: Will ASU finish last in the country in pass defense again? I don’t think so. But, that doesn’t mean they will be much better from the last couple of seasons. The safety duo of Dasmond Tautalatasi and Chad Adams is physical and fast, and will make plays over the course of the year. But with inexperienced cornerbacks in Joey Bryant, Kobe Williams, and Chase Lucas figuring to be relied on in perimeter coverage, things could get dicey.

Madden: I don't believe so. One would assume that they could've improved from two seasons ago when they were dead last, but they didn't. Even with Bennett stepping in — which I believe is an upgrade — it's hard to rebound from the amount of talent that left in Armand Perry and Kareem Orr.

What does Todd Graham have to do this season to get off the hot seat?

Note: Graham was fired after sevens wins. If you put eight or more wins, that counts. Anything below? Nope.

Denny: I feel eight wins is a lock, but I think how this team is trending is the biggest key. Last year, the losing streak, and most damningly, a lack of effort left a sour taste in everyone's mouth. If the defense can show modest improvement and the offense can live up to their lofty expectations, things will go well.

Clarke: He has to win eight games. Ray Anderson and the athletic department don’t have the patience for a .500 or worse season at this stage of Graham’s tenure. However, I don’t necessarily think he should be fired if he doesn’t meet expectations, especially considering what he’s invested in the program and ASU community.

Totri: The only way I see Graham keeping his job is if the Sun Devils are ranked. It's a huge task I don't see getting achieved, but I firmly believe the new regime of Phil Bennett and Billy Napier was put in place for the years to come, no matter what Graham does in 2017.

Kaye: To get off of the hot heat, Graham will need to orchestrate an eight or nine win season, showing the fan base, and Ray Anderson, that 10-win seasons, like the program saw in 2013 and 2014, weren’t a fluke and may be right around the corner again.

What will Arizona State’s final record be and where will the Sun Devils finish in the South?

Note: I’ll be nice. If you gave them seven wins, you’re right.

Denny: 7-5, 4th in the South. USC is nearly a lock on top, and Arizona on the bottom, but the rest of the division is pretty close. After the Trojans, I think Utah will exceed expectations yet again thanks to their endless supply of big angry linemen on both sides of the ball and an improved passing game. Colorado takes a huge step back defensively, but their offense is good enough to carry them to a third-place finish. The Sun Devils should slide into the fourth spot, ahead of an overrated UCLA squad.

Pekale: I think the Sun Devils will be 7-5 on the season (4-5 in the PAC-12) and will finish fifth in the South division.

Kaye: I see ASU going 7-5 in the regular season and finishing third in the Pac-12 South behind USC and Utah. With so many weapons on offense, putting points on the board shouldn’t be too big of a problem. From there, it will be up to the defense to keep them in, and ahead, throughout the season. I don’t see them winning a game during their midseason stretch, so the final four games against Colorado, UCLA, Oregon State and Arizona will either make or break their season.

GOLD: Kaye (36)

SILVER: Denny (30), Madden (30)

BRONZE J. Harris (26)

The rest: M. Harris (23), Clarke (19), Tonis (18), Totri (17), Jones (16), Pekale (16), Destin (9) Toscano (8)