Arizona State opens Kenny Dillingham era against Southern Utah

FILE - Arizona State head coach Kenny Dillingham speaks at NCAA college football Pac-12 media day Friday, July 21, 2023, in Las Vegas. Arizona State opens their season at home against Southern Utah on Aug. 31. (AP Photo/Lucas Peltier, File)

Southern Utah at Arizona State, Thursday at 10 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Network)

Line: No line.

Series record: Arizona State 1-0.


Arizona State plays its first game under coach Kenny Dillingham. The former Oregon offensive coordinator was hired to replace Herm Edwards and has infused the program with his boundless energy. The youngest coach in the FBS at 32, Dillingham overhauled the roster so the Sun Devils may have a few kinks to work out in their first game action. Southern Utah is coming off a 5-6 season under coach DeLane Fitzgerald, but won its final two games.


Southern Utah is expected to have a more dynamic offense under new offensive coordinator Tye Hiatt, but will face a stiff opening test against Arizona State, even with all the newcomers. Arizona State is expected to have a solid pass rush and the secondary is anchored by Ro Torrence, one of the Pac-12's best cornerbacks.


Southern Utah: QB Justin Miller. A three-year starter, Miller is coming off a strong 2022 season in which he threw for a career-best 2,824 yards and 20 TDs with eight interceptions while completing 65.4% of his passes to lead the WAC. He's not much of a threat to run, but did score three TDs on the ground last season.

Arizona State: QB Jaden Rashada. The freshman committed then decommitted from Miami and Florida before arriving in the desert. The athletic former four-star recruit beat out returner Trenton Bourguet and Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne to earn the starting job. He's the second freshman to start at quarterback in the season opener for Arizona State, with Jayden Daniels in 2019.


Arizona State has won 23 straight home openers, the third-longest active streak in the FBS behind Florida (33) and Oklahoma State (27).. ... The Sun Devils beat the Thunderbirds 41-14 in their lone meeting in 2021. ... Southern Utah is 0-8 against Pac-12 teams and has lost its last 13 games against FBS opponents. The Thunderbirds are 3-30 against FBS opponents since 1996, their last win over Southern Alabama in 2013. ... One area where Arizona State's new defense will need to be better is defending third downs. The Sun Devils allowed teams to convert 49.4% last season, worst in program history.


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