4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ARIZONA STATE DEFENSE
– The defense needs to do more against the run, and it would be nice to generate a little more of a pass rush. It’s coming off a rough second half of 2018 – allowing 31 points or more in four of the last six games – and now the very, very young talent has to shine through for a D that loses six key starters.
– Everything will revolve around the fantastic sophomore linebacking duo of Merlin Roberson on the outside and Darien Butler in the middle. These two have good size, great athleticism, and they make a ton of big plays. They’re the stars, but there’s a whole lot of promise in the young secondary, too, featuring all-around playmaking safety Aashari Crosswell and top corner Chase Lucas. Now the experience has to translate into more key stops.
– Renell Wren is a key loss on the nose, and end Jalen Bates is transferring to Colorado State. Shannon Forman on the end and George Lea at tackle have to rise up and rock right away, but the line will be a wee bit of a concern early on.