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Arizona State Fired up at Big 12 Media Days

Kenny Dillingham and the Sun Devils discuss their excitement for their first season in the Big 12 at Big 12 Media Days.

LAS VEGAS (KYMA, KECY) - It's a new era for Arizona State football, as the Sun Devils approach their first season in the Big 12. The excitement for new rivals, destinations, and everything that the upcoming season will bring has ASU head coach Kenny Dilllingham fired up for 2024.

"It's just the opportunity to be the first to experience it," Dillingham said. "You can be at a game in the first year of Big 12 football. Why would you not want to experience the first? The crazy thing about sports is you never know what game will be remembered and talked about the rest of your life."

Despite being picked to finish last in the Big 12 preseason media poll, there is an aura of positivity surrounding the Sun Devils. It is a reflection of the culture stemming from their head coach.

"There's an energy around our football program, certainly an energy around the big 12, but specifically ASU," newly appointed ASU athletic director Graham Rossini said. "There's just an energy around what Coach Dillingham and his coaches have been building with this roster. We're looking to be far improved from how we competed last year. We're really excited for a high octane, energetic, offensive style of play."

"I've never seen head coaches going down to the locker room trying to 1v1 somebody in Madden, ping pong and stuff like that," ASU offensive lineman Leif Fautanu said. "So it's definitely a testament to [Coach Dillingham's] youth and trying to relate to us to get to know him better."

ASU is in the midst of a total program rebuild, but Dillingham believes his team will make major steps forward this season.

"It sounds cliche," Dillingham said. "How do you learn how to win? It just happens. It happens to respond to adversity. It happens through happening. And once they get that belief that they can do it, that's when your program flips."

One of the biggest questions surrounding ASU is who will be under center? In the spring, Dillingham declared it would be Sam Leavitt if there were a game that day, but whoever the guy is that will be under center needs to prove something major to the coaches.

"Taking care of the football," Dillingham said. "That simple. It's a simple game. We were horrible, the worst I've ever been around in turnover margin last year. [We had] eight turnovers in one game. I don't know if I've had a quarterback draw eight turnovers in eight game span. [It will be] whoever can take care of the football because defensively we're making a huge emphasis on ball disruption. And if we can just drop the ball, take care of the ball, the rest of the game will take care of itself."

Whichever quarterback earns the starting role will be playing behind a much deeper offensive line and has a loaded running back led by Cameron Skattebo at their disposal.

"It's going to be awesome," Skattebo said. "There's seven guys in the room. As one comes in and everyone can play at any time because we got a lot of guys back there. It's going to be a long year. We have got enough guys to do it all."

A major area of strength for the Sun Devils will be their secondary, which is critical with so many talented and experienced quarterbacks in the conference.

"You have to be able to play man coverage," Dillingham said. "[The best defenses in college football] can line up and play man coverage on first and ten, and not let your quarterback get in rthym. If you can do that, you have an advantage I would hope this year we'll be able to play a little more early downs in man coverage to prevent quick passing game and quarterbacks from getting into rhythm."

ASU will be back on campus at the end of July for fall camp and they will kick off their season on August 31 against the Wyoming Cowboys at Mountain America Stadium.

Article Topic Follows: College Sports

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Chas Messman

Chas Messman joined KYMA in July 2023 as News 11’s Sports Director. If you have any sports story ideas, send them to


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