Defense will be ASU’s biggest question at Pac-12 Media Day

Head coach Todd Graham will represent the Sun Devils at Pac-12 Football Media Day at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Calif., along with redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly and redshirt senior offensive lineman Jamil Douglas. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

Head coach Todd Graham will represent the Sun Devils at Pac-12 Football Media Day at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Calif., along with redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly and redshirt senior offensive lineman Jamil Douglas. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

Pac-12 Football Media Day starts Wednesday at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood, Calif. and there are no shortage of storylines going in to the event for the Sun Devils. The event will be the last time any member of the football team will be in front of the media before they travel to Camp Tontozona on Aug. 12.

ASU will be represented at the two-day media event by third-year head coach Todd Graham along with redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly and redshirt senior offensive lineman Jamil Douglas. They are scheduled to address the media at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.

One of the biggest storylines this offseason for the team is how it will work to replace the loss of defensive starters like Will Sutton, Carl Bradford, Alden Darby and Osahon Irabor. Bradford’s position, what the team likes to call the “Devilbacker,” was expected by many to be taken by junior college transfer Darrius Caldwell. However, last week it was announced Caldwell would not be enrolling at ASU for academic reasons, leaving the devilbacker position again in a state of uncertainty.

The position is an extremely important one in Graham’s defense, so the competition there will be a significant one. Sophomore Villami Latu and redshirt freshman Chans Cox are now among those expected to compete for the Devilbacker spot in the defense.

On Monday it was also announced that junior college transfer Dalvon Stuckey would also not be enrolling at ASU this fall. Stuckey was expected to take over for star defensive lineman Will Sutton. Media day will be the first time Graham will address the losses of Caldwell and Stuckey and how they will work to replace them in the defense.

Media day will also be the first time Graham will be asked how he feels about his team going into the 2014 season, which has already received some preseason hype since the team’s loss to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.

Preseason award watchlists have been rolling out in the past weeks, and plenty of Sun Devils have received recognition, including the two players who will represent the team at media day. Kelly has been placed on the Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award and the Walter Camp Award watchlists, while Douglas has been named to the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award watchlists.

The biggest storyline at Pac-12 Media Day outside of ASU will likely be the new coaches in the conference, specifically Chris Petersen at Washington. Petersen is on his first new team since joining Boise State as their offensive coordinator in 2001 and brings a lot of expectations with him to Seattle. Peterson became the head coach at Boise State in 2006 and went on to a 92-13 record and a 5-2 record in bowl games, including two Fiesta Bowl wins. The offense at Boise State became famous for scoring a lot of points under Petersen without getting top recruits; Petersen will now look to recreate that with the chance of getting high-level talent.

The other major coaching change in the conference is at USC with Steve Sarkisian taking over the program. Sarkisian had been the head coach at Washington since 2009 and earned a fairly mediocre 34-29 record including three seven-win seasons and a 1-2 record in bowl games. Sarkisian has now returned to a program with a long history of success, and media day will be his first test as the head of the program after previous stints as USC’s quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

Pac-12 Media Day begins Wednesday at 9 a.m. with introductions from commissioner Larry Scott.

 

Reach the reporter at wslane@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @bill_slane