(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
There is no doubt this is a young team, coming off a subpar season. On the other hand, this is a relatively weak conference, where an upstart team can rise up and challenge the "big dogs."
ASU's defense is a strength, specifically the front seven, and they will be pushed to the limit several times this season, but it may be up to them to win some games (see vs. UCLA last season).
With several question marks on offense from the offensive line to the running game to who is even going to be the quarterback, several individuals will have to step up if this team will find any success.
But Dennis Erickson is a quality coach and he knows what it takes to win. He now has primarily "his guys" in place and has improved recruiting and players' attitudes with regard to the program.
He took a step back last season, but a baptism by fire for several young players may have been what was needed for the maroon and gold to find success.
The 2009 season will be a huge test, but also an excellent gauge of where the program is headed.