Arizona St. head coach Todd Graham is in his ninth season as a college head coach, and in that short span, he's coached four different programs, beginning with a one year stint at Rice in 2006, before abandoning them for Tulsa just days after signing a contract extension at Rice. After four successful seasons at Tulsa, Graham up and left for Pittsburgh in 2011, but just like Rice, he bailed on the Panthers after just one season, going behind his school's back to pick up the job at Arizona State. I don't know how much longer Graham will stay at ASU, but I doubt any Sun Devils are confident that he's committed to the program for the long run.
Despite the nomadic nature of his coaching, Graham owns a career record of 70-38 entering this weekend's contest. Except for his 5-7 season in Tulsa in 2009 (which was bracketed by a 11-3 year in 2008 and a 10-3 year in 2010), he's never had a losing season, and he's quickly turned the Sun Devils into a contender in the Pac-12 South after years of last-season swoons and ineptitude under Dennis Erickson.
Offensively, the Sun Devils are coached by Mike Norvell, who is probably knocking on the door of his own head coaching job. Norvell's spread has led Arizona St. to 38 ppg with a balanced attack that is gaining over 200 ypg through the air and over 300 ypg on the ground. They have not been challenged yet this year, hence the gaudy numbers.
Paul Randolph, who has also been with Graham since Tulsa, coordinates the defense. Randolph runs an aggressive 4-3 defense that is breaking in virtually an entirely new unit. ASU lost 9 starters from last year's team, but now that they're in the fourth game of the season, lack of experience should not be a factor.
Turning to the Sun Devils' special teams' unit, the men from Tempe broke in an entirely new special teams unit last year, and now they have good experience with junior punter/kicker Alex Garoutte. Garoutte handling the kicking duties. ASU has not returned a kick off this year, and have only returned 6 punts thus far.
That concludes part 1 of the Arizona State preview. Be sure to check in tomorrow for a closer look at the offense.