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Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover the Pac-12 for The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Pac-12: Arizona State coach widens his scope

The colored sweatbands that Arizona State coach Todd Graham wears on his wrist during games are designed to help players recognize him when he's making defensive calls.

Graham will remain heavily involved in the Sun Devils' defense, but he says the hiring of Keith Patterson as defensive coordinator will enable him to attend to more of ASU's entire operation.

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Patterson's arrival means Graham won't "just have to focus totally on the defensive side," Graham said last week during the Pac-12's post-spring media teleconference.

Graham and Patterson have a long history together, most recently at Tulsa and Pittsburgh. Patterson went to West Virginia when Graham took the ASU job in 2012, but they're reunited in a move that was facilitated when Joe Lorig left ASU's defensive staff to take a position at Utah State.

Graham intends to spend more time acting as a consultant to offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, in addition to working with the Sun Devils' secondary and pass-rushing schemes.

ASU is the Pac-12 South's defending champion, having gone 8-1 in conference play before losing to Stanford in the conference title game and falling to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl to finish 10-4. The Sun Devils return quarterback Taylor Kelly, receiver Jalen Strong and running back D.J. Foster to a prolific offense, but have some holes to fill on defense.

"Anything less than a Pac-12 championship is less than acceptable," Graham said after ASU's spring game. "These guys understand the task ahead of them."

The Sun Devils open the season Aug. 28 against Weber State. Their other nonconference games include New Mexico in September and Arizona State in November. ASU will host Utah on Nov. 1.

- Kurt Kragthorpe

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