Without them, the Sun Devils would at the very bottom of the Pac-10.
In the preseason media poll, released today in Los Angeles, ASU was picked to finish ninth.
This ranking shouldn't come as a surprise to ASU fans, as the Sun Devils have been overly subpar the past two seasons.
Take away that magical 8-0 start to the 2007 season and Dennis Erickson is 11-18 as the leader of the Sun Devils. Even if that undefeated start is included, a 19-18 overall record isn't exactly sparkling -- or what ASU fans hoped for when he was hired.
A 5-7 campaign in 2008 followed by a dismal 4-8 record last season and Erickson is probably on the hot-seat this season.
If the Sun Devils can somehow manage to win seven games and make a low-tier bowl game, this season will be considered a success. But that may be too farfetched for a team that has such a lackluster offense.
The defense, led by tackle Lawrence Guy and linebacker Vontaze Burfict, should be one of the best in the conference, if not the nation.
Here are the full rankings from the preseason poll (first-place votes are in parentheses).
1. Oregon (15)
2. USC (12)
3. Oregon State (3)
4. Stanford (1)
5. Arizona (2)
6. Washington (1)
8. UCLA (1)
9. Arizona State
10. Washington State