The 2017 ASU football season had its highs and lows. After going 7-6 in the regular season and 6-3 in the conference, many thought Todd Graham had done enough to keep his job for another season. Athletic Director Ray Anderson thought otherwise, and he hired Herm Edwards as his replacement.
The Sun Devils finished 42nd in points per game, averaging just 2 fewer points than the year prior. In terms of yardage, the ASU offense vastly improved. After averaging 391 yards per game in 2016, ASU improved to 431 yards in 2017.
After finishing 124th in points allowed per game in 2016 with 39.8, the Sun Devil defense vastly improved in 2017 allowing 31.3 points per game which ranked 42nd most. They also went from giving up 521 yards per game on defense in 2016 to 447 yards per game in 2017 which ranked 22nd most…
While there is little doubt the win against then #5 Washington during Week 7 was the most memorable game of the season, I would argue the ASU 30-10 win in Salt Lake City against Utah the following week was their best performance. Utah was shut out in the first half and did not score their lone touchdown until there were only 3 minutes remaining in the game. The defense was playing at their absolute peak, intercepting Utah QB Tyler Huntley four times and scoring a defensive touchdown. Salt Lake City has become the place where dream seasons go to die in recent years, but the Sun Devils gave Utah their worst home loss since 2014.
Following the Utah victory, Sun Devil nation was back on board with the season with excitement for a home matchup against #21 USC. With the winner having full control over the Pac 12 South, Homecoming Week could have been a season-changing moment. Instead, the Sun Devils were flat from the start. Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones III tore the defense to shreds, and outside of a weird hail mary to end the first half, there was little excitement in Sun Devil Stadium during the game. By far, the worst performance on the season ended in a 48-17 trouncing by the Trojans.
Most Valuable Offensive Player
2017 was the N’Keal Harry show on offense for the Sun Devils as Harry led the team with 82 receptions and 1142 receiving yards. He was selected to the Pac-12 All-Conference team and was by far the most impactful player on offense.
Top Offensive Newcomer
Towards the end of the season, Todd Graham began to pass the torch from the senior running backs to freshman Eno Benjamin. In a limited amount of carries, Eno Benjamin was simply electric. While he only scored one touchdown (which might have been the TD of the year), Benjamin averaged 6.2 yards per carry and brought a new element of speed the other two running backs were lacking. The ASU running back core seems to be in good hands with Benjamin.
Most Valuable Defensive Player
DJ Calhoun stood out at the linebacker position in 2017. He was by far one of the most consistent defensive players on the team as he finished 2nd in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks, showing himself to be an impact player. His best performances came in our wins with great showings against both Washington and Utah. He had two tackles for a loss and one sack against both Washington and Utah.
Top Defensive Newcomer
Also a candidate for MVP of the defense, redshirt freshman CB Chase Lucas had a great season. He was tied for the most interceptions on the team with 2 and led the team in passes defended with 8. In a team loaded with talent in the front-7, he also finished 5th on the team with 53 tackles as well. Lucas gained national attention this season as he was put on the freshman All-America team, asserting himself as one of the best freshman players in the country.