Going 3-9 in the final season of Herm Edwards just seemed fitting. The ship was sinking for a couple of years after in the midst of his worst season, the school decided to move on.
Edwards started his tenure hot and then sizzled out. It felt like everything was headed in the wrong direction when Jayden Daniels decided to transfer to LSU.
Kenny Dillingham has since taken over after a successful first year as Oregon’s offensive coordinator. He helped turn Bo Nix from a forgotten star to one of the best quarterbacks in the country and that Oregon offense was one of the best in the high-flying Pac-12. It felt like he was the perfect fit at Arizona State, his alma mater.
But he’s inheriting a roster that isn’t going to wow anyone following a 3-9 season. Good coaching can turn the Sun Devils into a bowl team, but what are the realistic expectations for year one of the Dillingham era?
Realistic expectations for Arizona State football in 2023
Dillingham is bringing in Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne at quarterback which should be a nice improvement from last year as Emory Jones struggled. Trenton Bourguet also returns at quarterback after a fairly impressive season and Jaden Rashada comes in as one of the best freshman quarterbacks in the nation. The QB room will be vastly improved which is a good start.
The Sun Devils also bring in the No. 37 recruiting class in the country that addresses needs on both sides of the ball along with 26 (!!) transfers so there’s a major roster turnover.
Long story short, this won’t be the same team as last year.
Arizona State will be improved at just about every position and I think that’s going to lead to an impressive comeback year.
Looking at the schedule, there’s a chance we could see this team start 3-0 with a surprise win over Oklahoma State in Tempe. They could win at least one of their next three before a bye to go into the week off with a healthy 4-2 record. The second half of the season is incredibly tough as I only see two wins left on the schedule, finishing 6-6.
In order to do that, the Sun Devils must steal a win from Oklahoma State and Washington State.
I think 5-7 is the most realistic record, 6-6 is very possible, and a seven-win season would probably be the best-case scenario for this team.
No matter what, the Sun Devils will be far more competitive in 2023.