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2007 Arizona State Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 24, 2007


Preview 2007 Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State Sun Devils

Preview 200
7


By Richard Cirminiello


- 2007 ASU Offense Preview
| 2007 ASU Defense Preview
-
2007 ASU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Arizona State Preview 

More than any other program in the country, Arizona State has a habit of underachieving when it begins the season highly ranked or expected to make a run at a Pac-10 title. 

Well, that’s one less thing to worry about in 2007. 

After losing five league games and failing to approach last year’s target, the Sun Devils don’t figure to get nearly as much love in the preseason polls as the last two seasons, even though the team might be better than it’s been over the last few years. 

Head coach: Dennis Erickson
1st year at ASU
19th year overall: 148-65-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 27, Def. 21 ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 19
Ten Best ASU Players
1. RB Ryan Torain, Sr.
2. FS Josh Barrett, Sr.
3. DE Dexter Davis, Soph.
4. C Mike Pollak, Sr.
5. QB Rudy Carpenter, Jr.
6. LT Brandon Rodd, Sr.
7. CB Justin Tryon, Sr.
8. DT Michael Marquardt, Sr.
9. WR Rudy Burgess, Sr.
10. RT Zach Krula, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
7-5

Sept. 1

San Jose State

Sept. 8

Colorado

Sept. 15

San Diego State

Sept. 22

Oregon State

Sept. 29

at Stanford

Oct. 6

at Washington St

Oct. 13

Washington

Oct. 27

California

Nov. 3

at Oregon

Nov. 10

at UCLA

Nov. 22

USC

Dec. 1

Arizona

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
8-4
2006 Results: 7
-6
Preview 2006 predicted wins

8/31 No. Arizona W 35-14
9/9 Nevada W 52-21
9/16 at Colorado W 21-3
9/23 at California L 49-21
9/30 Oregon L 48-13
10/14 at USC L 28-21
10/21 Stanford W 38-3
10/28 at Wash. W 26-23 OT
11/4 at Oregon State L 44-10
11/11 Washington St W 47-14
11/18 UCLA L 24-12
11/25 at Arizona W 28-14
12/24 Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii L 41-24

Looking to end the cycle of mediocrity in Tempe, the administration ended the Dirk Koetter era last November and promptly began the Dennis Erickson era.  Erickson, college football’s version of Larry Brown, left Idaho after just ten months on the job for his third assignment with a Pac-10 team.  You want loyalty? Buy a dog.  If you want to elevate a program that’s stuck in neutral, hand the keys to Erickson, a program builder and proven winner who has a knack for igniting a fan base.

One thing the Sun Devils have never lacked is talent, and this season will be no different.  They return ample starters on both sides of the ball, including the starting quarterback, top rusher, entire offensive line and leading tackler.  One of the primary objectives for Erickson and his staff will be to correct the flaws of quarterback Rudy Carpenter who was good enough to lead the nation in passing efficiency as a freshman before imploding as an error-prone and unsure sophomore in 2006.

There’s work to be done in Tempe, especially on defense, but Erickson knew he wasn’t inheriting a reclamation project when he accepted this job.  There’s a nice blend of veteran and budding talent and a manageable schedule that features eight home games, ingredients for a banner year.  For the love of Sparky, just don’t mention it to the Sun Devils until after the season has kicked off.        

What to watch for on offense: While there will be subtle differences, Erickson’s desire to spread the field, shift formations and attack through the air doesn’t stray far from Koetter’s old system.  In other words, the personnel recruited to Arizona State will mesh nicely with what Erickson and coordinator Rich Olson are trying to achieve.  If Carpenter can rebound from last year, his passing combined with the north-south running of Ryan Torain will make the Sun Devils a bear to deal with.      

What to watch for on defense:
The Sun Devils never have trouble finding quality athletes on defense, but molding that talent into a stingy unit has long been difficult in the desert.  They started strong in 2006, but fell apart when the Pac-10 schedule began and were shredded by the league’s better offenses.  Expect more of the same in 2007 from a group that loses six starters and is especially weak in pass defense, a death sentence in this conference.  Arizona State needs about a half-dozen more players like safety Josh Barrett and tackle Michael Marquardt, the two defenders with all-league potential.        

The team will be far better if …Carpenter plays like he did as a freshman and is the next best thing to John David Booty in the Pac-10.  If the Sun Devils are going to overachieve for a change, it’ll be because the offense is ringing up 35 points every Saturday in October and November.  For that to happen, it’s incumbent upon Carpenter to shake off 2006 and prevent defenses from loading up on Torain.   

The Schedule: It works out almost as well as can be asked, with five conference games at home and the one rough patch coming late in the year. The first four games are at home, including the Pac-10 opener against Oregon State, while a two-game road trip to Stanford and Washington State isn’t all that bad. Following a home date with Washington, the Sun Devils host Cal, go on the road to play Oregon and UCLA, and host USC before finishing up at home with the showdown against Arizona. If they can win three of those last five, it’ll be a very successful year.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Ryan Torain. The former JUCO transfer took a few games to heat up, but then he dominated with six games of 90 yards or more in the final 11, finishing with 1,229 yards, seven touchdowns and 5.5 yards per carry. He’s a big back with a little wiggle and good hands, but he didn’t get the ball thrown his way much late in the year.

Best Defensive Player: Senior FS Josh Barrett. With terrific size and next-level hitting ability, the 6-2, 220 pound senior lived up to his promise by leading the team with 82 tackles and three interceptions. With running mate Zach Cantanese gone, he’ll have to make even more big plays against the pass, while making better decisions to help out the corners.

Key player to a successful season: Senior OT Brandon Rodd. Part of Carpenter’s problem last season was time; he didn’t have any. The ASU offensive line allowed 35 sacks and several more pressures, and while Carpenter was indecisive and held on to the ball too long at times, he needs more protection. With Andrew Carnahan gone, the 6-4, 301-pound Rodd becomes the team’s top tackle, but he needs to be stronger in pass protection.

The season will be a success if ... ASU wins ten games. It might take a bowl win to do it, but the schedule works out well, the defense will get at least half the season before it has to figure out who can actually play, and the offense can’t help but be better with Rudy Carpenter and Ryan Torian in the backfield, leading the way.

Key game: Oct. 27 vs. California. ASU’s first seven games are San Jose State, Colorado, San Diego State, Oregon State, at Stanford, at Washington State, Washington. Even if the team doesn’t play at a championship level, at worst it should be 5-2 and at best 7-0 going into the showdown with Cal. The Sun Devils must pull off this home win, with the road games at Oregon and UCLA, along with the home date with USC, to follow.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: Arizona State 103 for 835 yards; Opponents 83 for 762 yards
- Average passing yards per game: Arizona State 197.6; Opponents 210.9
- Kickoff return average: Arizona State 26.4 yards; Opponents 22.8 yards

  

Related Stories
2007 Arizona State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 24, 2007
2007 Arizona State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 24, 2007
2007 Arizona State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 24, 2007








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