First and foremost, I’m a fan of ASU football. I want to see this program succeed. I’m rooting for Shaun Aguano and his staff that he’s inherited.
But there’s no denying it: The Sun Devil Football program is years away from any sort of national relevance right now. No real prominent fixture to represent the program, looming NCAA sanctions, and uncertainty in what conference they’ll be playing in all put a big red “caution” sign over the team.
All of these issues were bottled up and put into spectacle this past Saturday against the rival (and very good) Utah Utes. Not only does Utah have the things that ASU doesn’t like a formidable and respected head coach and lots of really good players, but they have a sense of urgency.
Again, none of this is coach Aguano’s fault. He’s a highly respected coach in the state of Arizona who’s been bullish about the pride he takes in his new duties, but he’s in an impossible job. Being asked to guide a ship that’s rapidly sinking, Aguano is simply in over his head with an athletic department that doesn’t want to or care to give him the resources to give him a fighting chance.
Let’s get into the good, bad and ugly.
The Good: Coach Aguano
Off the field, it was refreshing to see a coach who wanted to engage with the fanbase. The return of the Sun Devil walk and the entire team walking out on the field together was a sign of leadership and pride for the program, fanbase and community.
Despite the negative, Kyle Soelle has played good football thus far in 2022. Crashing the line and often being the first one to the ball, Soelle leads the team in interceptions and tackles. If the senior continues to string together strong performances, he’ll give himself a good shot to land on teams draft boards this spring.
The Bad: The running game
Six yards. That’s how much the Devils were able to muster against the Utes defense. 20 attempts for six yards. An average of 0.3 yards per carry. X. Valladay led the way with eight Carrie’s for 30 yards, but Emory Jones struggled all night, racking up -26 yards on the night.
It’s a crime that Valladay only saw eight touches. After seeing no less than 15 touches in the three weeks prior, The Devils went away from their best offensive weapon on Saturday for no apparent reason. Valladay went into the week four matchup averaging 120 yards per game, and if the Devils want to have any sort of shot to compete against the Trojans they’ll need to get their bell-cow back some more work.
The Ugly: 2022
Nothing, absolutely nothing has been pretty about this season.
Ok, fine, maybe the special teams looks improved. Shoutout Carter Brown and Daniyel Ngata.
With the exception of week one, the Devils have been outmatched by every opponent, but the embarrassment didn’t start in week two. It started with the transfer portal exodus in the off-season and the lack of urgency and action from the athletic department. Herm Edwards is gone, but he most certainly did not leave the program in a better place. Sun Devil stadium was a barren, forgotten venue by the third quarter on Saturday overrun by scarlet red clad Utah fans. The Sun Devil faithfuls commitment was rewarded with another embarrassing loss on another forgetful Saturday in Tempe. It feels like nobody in the program cares, so why should the fans?