Post Spring Q+A with House of Sparky about Arizona State Football

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

We continue our post-spring look at various Pac-12 football teams with Arizona State, who are looking to build on their strong showing from last year. Special thanks to Kerry Crowley of House of Sparky for taking the time to answer all of our questions.

1. What were the core questions that you had hoped would be answered by Spring Practice? Were conclusions reached?

Kerry Crowley: Arizona State really needed players to go out and compete for starting spots and that's exactly what happened this spring. While positions along the defensive line and in the backfield were pretty well set heading into spring, the O-Line, receiving core, and linebacking units needed players to go out and win spots. While conclusions weren't reached at every position, it's safe to say the coaching staff feels confident because there were positions (cornerback/receiver) where great competition ensued and there are now multiple viable options to start.

2. Any major style changes coming our way in the fall? New offense or defense installed?

Kerry Crowley: The offensive and defensive coordinators will be the same this fall, but we can expect more variety out of the Sun Devils. This is the players' second year in the system, and we already saw some adaptations being made on offense this spring. The Sun Devils worked a beautiful triple option look this spring that we didn't see last year, and they certainly have the personnel to draw up new schemes.

3. What players emerged on offense? On defense?

Kerry Crowley: Though he's already a proven commodity, Marion Grice proved just how important he will be to this team during the spring. Grice has established himself as the No. 1 back, and he displayed breakaway speed that we really didn't see from him last season. On defense, both Rashad Wadood and Lloyd Carrington stepped up at the cornerback position, and they look like they'll replace graduated senior Deveron Carr without missing a beat.

Marion Grice Highlights ASU 2012.Most Versatile Back In NCAAFootball 2013 (via Nate Gill)

4. What are your biggest worries coming out of spring ball for the fall?

Kerry Crowley: The schedule. Things are so tough early on and it would be heartbreaking to see a team with so much talent and potential fall prey to the scheduling gods. After opening the season against Sacramento State, ASU faces Wisconsin, Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame in four consecutive weeks. The Sun Devils have to stay healthy and they have to stay hungry, because they can really prove themselves with three or four wins in those games.

5. Project your season. Contender? Pretender? Middle of the pack?

Kerry Crowley: There is no doubt that this team can, should, and will be a contender. The stars are aligning, the defense looks great, and every single player exudes confidence when talking about the team's high hopes. Of course, we've seen situations like this before where it doesn't work out, but here's to hoping that won't be this team's issue.

6. Any frosh you can't wait to get on campus?

Kerry Crowley: Todd Graham pulled in an impressive recruiting class that addressed a lot of team needs, but in terms of freshmen who can make an impact right away, it's Zane Gonzalez. He's a kicking prospect out of Texas who was a late, but necessary, addition to the 2013 class and the Sun Devils are in dire straights when it comes to kicking. If Gonzalez can be above average, that would make him a sensational recruit.

7. Who will you miss the most from last season? Who will be stepping up to fulfill those shoes?

Kerry Crowley: Brandon Magee and Cameron Marshall. Both players were team captains who played pivotal roles in ushering in the Todd Graham era, and both players were contributors throughout their collegiate careers. You can always replace production, but sometimes it's impossible to replace leadership. The Sun Devils will look to safety Alden Darby, quarterback Taylor Kelly, and All-American Will Sutton to become vocal guys this season.

8. Any particular Pac12 match-up/rivalry you are looking forward to this Fall?

Kerry Crowley: Of course, the Territorial Cup rivalry game takes precedent over any game on the schedule. The Duel in the Desert is played the day after Thanksgiving, and nothing is sweeter than beating the Wildcats. Last year, it took an incredible comeback, but this year, Sun Devil fans are expecting a big victory. Of all the Sun Devils' team goals, the season really can't be considered a success without beating Arizona.

9. What are the specific injury concerns coming out of this spring?

Kerry Crowley: Defensive end Junior Onyeali didn't practice this spring after having surgery and he's a critical component of the defensive line. Also, young linebackers Carlos Mendoza and Chans Cox are recovering from injuries, and it would be nice to get at least one of them significant playing time this season to help set the foundation for the future. Other than that, the key players are all relatively healthy.

DevilsDigest TV: Todd Graham (via Hod Rabino)

10. Based on what you've seen, who is ready to take a major leap this fall?

Kerry Crowley: Everyone knows about Will Sutton, but Carl Bradford is the real freak of nature on defense. Sutton is about as hard to block as any defensive lineman you will find, but Bradford has an electric element to his game that will be on full display this season. After recording double-digit sacks last season, there's a chance for Bradford to be even better this year.

11. Does Taylor Kelly keep the starting job, or is there too much young talent at QB to keep off the field?

Kerry Crowley: This is Taylor Kelly's offense, and it's definitely Taylor Kelly's job. At times, Kelly faced questions last season, but he showed immense growth over the final three games of last season. Kelly is accurate, he manages the game well, and he can make plays on the run and those are all things that he will continue to improve upon in year two of running the show.

12. How worried are you that Todd Graham will leave tomorrow for his next "dream job?"

Kerry Crowley: Graham insists that Arizona State is a dream job for him, but everyone knows the Texas native has jumped ship at a few places before. When jobs opened last fall, it was hard not to imagine Graham moving to a place like Auburn, but I think people are starting to feel more confident about his commitment to Arizona State. He's been recruiting hard, he wants to win at this program, and he is saying and doing all the things that makes you think he's in it for the long haul.

13. Who do you want to punch in the face?

Kerry Crowley: Anyone who makes decisions at DirecTV. Not having the Pac-12 Network is a slap in the face to its customers. So it only makes sense that they would retaliate with a punch in the face.

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