Arizona State Football: 5 Reasonable Goals for the Sun Devils in 2012
This is going to be a season of transition for the Arizona State Sun Devils. It's important to start Todd Graham's tenure on a positive note so he can build momentum for the program. In Graham's first year, small goals can become major victories.
There are five reasonable goals for the program to set its sights on. If the Sun Devils can accomplish these goals, they will be on track to becoming one of the Pac-12's elite program. If they don't, Graham's tenure could be a short and tumultuous one.
Rebuild the Fanbase
Graham has already done a good job with this in the offseason. He worked tirelessly with the student body and local businesses to show his level of commitment. He has been smart in doing this. No matter what level of success the team has in his first season, he is likely to still have the support of the fanbase.
I would expect that as the team moves forward, Graham's involvement and relationship with the fanbase will only grow.
Rebuild the Defense
The Sun Devils secondary lost two starters during last spring and could never recover. Case in point, the ASU defense was a disaster in 2011. It ranked 59th in the nation in sacks and 57th in tackles for loss.
That is not good enough to compete in a deep Pac-12 conference.
Doug Haller reported for azcentral.com that head coach Todd Graham will be bringing a new scheme to Tempe. He wants to increase the tempo and run an attack style of defense and pressure the quarterback more.
Find a Quality Quarterback to Build Around
The Sun Devils currently don't have a starting quarterback. However, they do have a three-way quarterback battle. That battle is between Mike Bercovici, Michael Eubank and Taylor Kelly. Bercovici was the team's backup last season and currently has the upper hand in the battle.
Win the Territorial Cup
The Arizona Wildcats are in a similar position as the Sun Devils this season. They have a new coach following a disappointing season.
Last season, the Wildcats beat the Sun Devils in "The Duel in the Desert." That should not have happened. The Sun Devils were the far more talented team.
Both teams are expected to struggle at times this season so it's realistic to expect a win in this game. It would be a huge step for Todd Graham and the program moving forward.
Get to a Bowl Game
To be bowl eligible, you must win six games. That is not inconceivable for this team in 2012. The Pac-12 has several programs in transition other than ASU.
When I look at the schedule, there are at least seven games that I believe to be "winnable": Northern Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, Colorado, Oregon State, Washington State and Arizona.
An appearance in a small bowl game is plausible for this team.
On paper, the Sun Devils are far away from being contenders in the Pac-12. When more closely examined, they might be closer than we think. If they can accomplish these goals, they will be well on their way to becoming a legitimate program once again.
Todd Graham needs his first season to be a successful one for the team moving forward.