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Arizona State Preview 2006

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 8, 2006


Stop me if you've heard this one before. Arizona State is going to be really, really, good. Like, national title level good if everything breaks the right way.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

Oh sure, the last few seasons under head coach Dirk Koetter have been explosive with times of unbelievable offense and enough excitement to think the corner is about to be turned, and then WHAM. Something happens to ruin all the fun.

Last season's team was a brilliant disappointment with the talent to push the two most athletic teams in America, LSU and USC, up until the last minute, but it lost both games. After all the fireworks and all the big numbers, the 2005 Sun Devils' best win was over ... Northwestern? Rutgers? The be elite you have to beat the elite, and this year's team has the makeup to beat the best of the best. At least it does on offense.

Head coach: Dirk Koetter
6th year: 33-28
8th year: 59-38
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 27, Def. 21 ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best ASU Players
1. TE Zach Miller, Jr.
2. QB Sam Keller, Sr.
3. QB Rudy Carpenter, Soph.
4. WR/CB Rudy Burgess, Jr.
5. SS Zach Catanese, Sr.
6. OT Andrew Carnahan, Sr.
7. DE Loren Howard, Sr.
8. WR/TE Jamaal Lewis, Sr.
9. DT Jordan Hill, Sr.
10. RB Keegan Herring, Soph.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4

8/31 Northern Arizona
9/9 Nevada
9/16 at Colorado
9/23 at California
9/30 Oregon
10/14 at USC
10/21 Stanford
10/28 at Washington
11/4 at Oregon State
11/11 Washington State
11/18 UCLA
11/25 at Arizona

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-3
2005 Results: 7-5

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/1 Temple W 63-16
9/10 LSU L 35-31
9/17 Northwestern W 52-21
9/24 at Oregon St W 42-24
10/1 USC L 38-28
10/8 Oregon L 31-17
10/22 at Stanford L 45-35
10/29 Washington W 44-20
11/5 at Wash State W 27-24
11/12 at UCLA L 45-35
11/25 Arizona W 23-20
12/27 Insight Bowl
Rutgers W 45-40

You know your situation is good when college football's best passer is second string. Rudy Carpenter, who led the nation in passing efficiency, was magnificent over the second half of last year with starter Sam Keller out with a thumb injury, and now the Sun Devils have two All-America caliber signal callers to run a frightening attack that should put up 35 points a game before leaving the locker room.

On both sides of the ball, Koetter has assembled a team that can run, hit, throw, and catch as well as anyone in the nation. The special teams will be tremendous with Terry Richardson back returning punts and kicks, and the defense should see some improvement with the addition of several good JUCO prospects along with Northwestern transfer Loren Howard and BYU transfer Michael Marquardt on the line.

So what's missing?

The confidence is certainly there, players like Keller will make sure of that. The talent is there. The coaching, despite what some Sun Devil fans think, is there. It's just a matter of putting everything together and finally coming up with big Pac 10 wins.

In the Koetter era, the best Pac 10 victory came in 2003 beating a decent Oregon team 59-14. The second best, arguably, was a 27-14 win in 2004 over an Oregon State team that finished 7-5. Yeah, zzzzzzz. Where are the upsets over USC? How about a win over a mighty Cal team?

ope, nothing.

To get where ASU needs to go, it has to become a living, breathing player in in the Pac 10 race. Otherwise, next year we'll be talking about how the 2007 Sun Devils really, truly have what it takes to be a national power.

The Schedule: It's not all that bad outside of road trips to Cal and USC, which could kill any dreams of a Pac 10 title. The road trip to Colorado will have the storyline of two former Boise State head coaches squaring off, but the Sun Devils had better not look past Nevada the week before. It'll be hard to get into too much of a groove with five road dates in seven games hurt by the imbalance of the Pac 10 schedule; some have to play five conference road games.

Best Offensive Player: Junior TE Zach Miller. He likely would've been a first round NFL pick had he been able to come out as a sophomore and would've been the most complete prospect in this year's tight end rich draft. Most of the world knows him for his highlight-reel catches, but the scouts have taken particular note of how good a blocker he has become.

Best Defensive Player: Senior SS Zach Catanese. One of the Pac 10's biggest hitters and the new leader of the defensive back seven, Catanese should start to get more notoriety this season. He needs to make more big plays against the pass, but his main job is helping make tone-setting stops against the run.

Key player to a successful season: Senior CB Keno Walter-White. The ASU secondary struggled last season even by Pac 10 standards. The safeties will be strong with the return of Zach Catanese and Josh Barnett, so the corners have to shine. Walter-White has the best combination of talent and experience, and hopefully players like Justin Tryon, Chad Green and Chris Baloney can help boost the production.

The season will be a success if ... Arizona State wins the Pac 10 title. Enough is enough. There's more than enough experience, talent, and athleticism to win the title and get to the BCS. There are some killer league road games to deal with, but there will always be landmines. A great team has to find a way to get the job done, and this, flaws and all, has the potential to be a great team.

Key game: September 23 at California. The Sun Devils and Bears didn't play last year, but they do now in the new everyone plays everyone Pac 10 world. The conference opener could be a stepping stone game for ASU with a chance, for all intents and purposes, to put the Pac 10 title away over the following two games against Oregon and at USC. A loss wouldn't be a killer, but it would mean there'd be no more margin for error.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: Arizona State 114 for 982 yards - Opponents 80 for 666 yards
- Average yards per catch: Arizona State 14.4 - Opponents 14.1
- Sacks: Opponents 36 for 222 yards - Arizona State 22 for 147 yards

The Last Time Arizona State…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Insight Bowl vs. Rutgers)
…missed a bowl game…2003
…pitched a shutout…1996 (Nebraska)
…was shutout…2004 (Cal)
…scored 50 points…2005 (Northwestern)
…went undefeated…1975
…won a conference title…1996 (Pac-10)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…2004 (Andrew Walter)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2001 (Delvon Flowers)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2005 (Derek Hagan)
…had a first-round draft choice…2003 (DE Terrell Suggs)

Related Stories
Arizona State Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006
Arizona State Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006
Arizona State Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Aug 8, 2006








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