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ASU Football: Sun Devils’ full-time offensive staff retained

OC Billy Napier gets a promotion, while the rest will remain in the same roles in Tempe

Arizona v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Arizona State Head Football Coach Herm Edwards announced Tuesday afternoon that he has successfully retained his full-time offensive coaching staff and promoted offensive coordinator Billy Napier to associate head coach.

Napier will remain the offensive coordinator. In addition to Napier, Assistant Head Coach and Running Backs coach John Simon, Wide Receivers Coach Rob Likens and Offensive Line Coach Rob Sale will all remain on the Sun Devil football staff next year.

“Billy’s experiences while working on some of the top coaching staffs in college football will be invaluable as we move Sun Devil Football forward,” Edwards said, via a press release from ASU.

Napier, who impressed many across the nation during his first year as an offensive coordinator after leaving Tuscaloosa, continued ASU’s offensive dominance in the red zone and managed the 14th-ranked offense in football during the 2017-18 campaign, according to Pro Football Focus.

He was also heavily credited with the development of redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins. Wilkins limited his interceptions from nine to just five this season and improved his overall quarterback rating from 133.19 to 142.21.

“The leadership challenge ahead is one I look forward to, especially considering the character of the young men on our roster,” Napier said, per the release. “We’re going to work diligently to elevate this program.”

Simon and Sale both improved their units from a year ago, but had struggles early on in the season before eventually performing at a consistent level. The majority of Sale’s offensive line will be returning for next season but both of Simon’s senior backs in Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage will be leaving. Sale’s unit should improve once again with experience, but it will be interesting to see what Simon can get out of Eno Benjamin, Trelon Smith and Nick Ralston.

Decisions regarding the defensive staff have yet to be announced, but it doesn’t look promising for those that hoped to be retained. Though Athletics Director Ray Anderson praised defensive coordinator Phil Bennett during the press conference announcing the termination of Todd Graham, Edwards was not so positive during Monday’s press conference.

“I think defensively, there are some things that I’ve looked at that we need to upgrade,” Edwards said. “This is just me from a far view as I’ve as I’m looking at the players....

“It’ll never stop traveling and if you look at some of these great college football teams like Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, and you turn the television on and you go, ‘oh boy look at that defense. Look at that defense. Why can’t we have that type of defense here. Is it against the rules?’ But you have to have the players.”

Perhaps he was speaking more about the talent-level on defense than the current coaches, but that remains to be determined. We’ll likely find out in the coming days as ASU football will look to solidify the rest of its staff.