The 2016 season was disappointing for all Sun Devil fans. Especially having to watch a defense that gave up 520.5 yards per game, and to add insult to injury, Arizona State’s pass defense was dead last in the country, as they gave up 357.4 passing yards per game and allowed 33 passing touchdowns.
But, there is hope for this unit heading into the 2017 season. With the addition of new defensive coordinator Phill Bennett and young, unseasoned players have gained experience, 2017 has a chance to be a big turnaround year for the Sun Devils.
Chad Adams: The senior appeared in 11 games and started at safety. Adams should bring back some much needed experience to this secondary unit.
Maurice Chandler: appeared in 11 games and started at cornerback. Chandler can matchup with taller receivers because of his size and athleticism and will also add experience being a senior.
Chaz Collins: did not appear in a game last season.
Deion Guignard: appeared in one game.
Chase Lucas: Redshirted.
Caleb McShanag: Redshirted.
J’Marcus Rhodes: appeared in 12 games and started at safety. Heading into his senior year Rhodes has the experience to be a leader this unit. Rhodes is a versatile player who can play any position in the secondary and can match up with almost any receiver because of his size and speed, and is able to tackle well in the open field.
Owen Rogers: did not appear a game last season. Although Rogers has been on the scout team the past two years, he will still add much needed depth to the cornerback position and might be the next man in if someone goes down.
Dasmond Tautalatasi: appeared in 10 games and was a key player on special teams. Could also be the “next man in” if injuries become a problem.
Tyler Whiley: appeared in four games.
Darien Cornay, Evan Fields, Landston Fredrick, K.J. Jarrell, and Ty Thomas. Darien Cornay and Ty Thomas have been taking the majority of second-team reps and could be second string heading into Week 1.
Who To Look Out For:
With Kareem Orr and Armand Perry both leaving, Phill Bennett still has plenty of talent he can plug in to his secondary. Names to be familiar with are J’Marcus Rhodes, Chase Lucas, Chad Adams, Dasmond Tautalatasi, and Kobe Williams who have all taken first-team reps.
Biggest Strength: New Coaching
With Phil Bennett coming from Baylor, there won’t be players presumed to be starters or better than others. Bennett has been getting a fresh look at the talent he has and he will plug in the best players, regardless of age or grade level, when the first game comes around on Aug. 31 against New Mexico State.
Biggest Weakness: Talent That Has Left The Program
Simply put, ever since Orr and Perry left ASU the Sun Devils lost a lot of experience in the defensive backfield. But these defensive backs are ready to turn things around. In order to do so, the Sun Devils will need three things to have any chance at success this season: a 100 percent group effort, good communication, and trust that everyone will do their job, whether that be coaching or the players on the field.
What It All Means
Only time will tell how ASU’s secondary will turn out this season. There’s only so much a coach can do for his players and then his players have to go out and execute the game plan. If the players physically aren’t able to execute the game plan then it’s not the coach’s fault, but on the flip side, if the players are able to execute and the team isn’t winning, then it falls at the hands of the coach. There’s less than five weeks until the Sun Devils put on their pads and helmets under the lights against New Mexico State to show ASU fans what this season has in store.