State Sun Devils
Interested in blogging
about Pac 10 football?
2008 CFN Arizona State Preview |
2008 ASU Offense
2008 ASU Defense |
2008 ASU Depth
2007 CFN Arizona State Preview |
2006 CFN Arizona
After delivering a
statement to the nation with 10 wins in 2007, Dennis Erickson is hoping
to serve up an equally impressive encore in 2008.
The nomadic head coach immediately put his stamp on the wayward program
and hasn’t let up, trouncing rival Arizona on the recruiting trail in
February and setting a tone that ASU is about to enter the glory days.
However, the success of his first year did come with little smoke and
plenty of mirrors.
Head coach: Dennis Erickson
2nd year at ASU: 10-3
20th year overall: 158-68-1
Off. 16, Def. 22, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 24
Best ASU Players
2. DE Dexter Davis, Jr.
3. FS Troy Nolan, Sr.
4. CB Omar Bolden, Soph.
5. WR Michael Jones, Sr.
6. K/P Thomas Weber, Soph.
7. RB Keegan Herring, Sr.
8. WR Chris McGaha, Jr.
9. G Paul Fanaika, Sr.
10. LB Travis Goethel, Jr.
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2008 Record: 0-0
Sept. 6 Stanford
Sept. 13 UNLV
Sept. 20 Georgia
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 at California
Oct. 11 at USC
Oct. 18 OPEN DATE
Oct. 25 Oregon
Nov. 1 at Oregon State
Nov. 8 at Washington
Nov. 15 Washington State
Nov. 22 OPEN DATE
Nov. 28 UCLA
Dec. 6 at Arizona
San Jose State
Wash St W 23-20
California W 31-20
Oregon L 35-23
UCLA W 24-20
Dec. 27 Texas L 52-34
Even with the big
season and for all the good things that happened, the losses to Oregon,
USC and Texas showed that there’s still work to be done to be among the
elite. However, ASU can’t be faulted for beating all the average teams;
you have to beat everyone, and ASU hasn’t been good at doing that.
Past Sun Devil teams folded in tight games, but under Erickson, the 2007
squad came through clutch going 3-0 in games decided by four points or
fewer. If those three swing the other way, ASU is 6-6 and nowhere near
the Holiday Bowl. And that’s how things have changed. This team will
find a way to get it done under Erickson, while past teams found a way
to blow it. This year, there are several things to work on to not slide
the other way.
The Sun Devils have needs on both lines and in the secondary, which they
believe will be addressed in the short term by a handful of junior
college transfers. Not one to pull back when things are going well,
Erickson plans to put the pedal to the metal in Arizona State’s quest to
become a perennial contender for a Pac-10 championship. To get there,
he’s banking on resurgent QB Rudy Carpenter having the most prolific
season of his turbulent career.
Yeah, Arizona State started 8-0 last year and won double-digit games for
the first time since 1996, but when the schedule got salty, it couldn’t
meet the challenge. This season, the Sun Devils are determined to build
on 2007 by taking a step closer to loosening USC’s stranglehold on the
Pac-10 title. Steps one and two will be to revamp the offensive line and
solidify the defense, respectively.
What to watch for on offense: The line, the line, the line, the
line, and, uh, the line. Considering the unit yielded 55 sacks, it’s
amazing the Sun Devils were able to win 10 games in a competitive
conference, and it’s even more amazing that Carpenter can still walk. If
the makeshift unit can somehow give Carpenter a little bit of time,
it’ll allow a deep pool of skill position players to get more touches
and make more plays in the open field. The offense will be more
consistent, and Carpenter won’t be a human punching bag again.
What to watch for on defense: The pass rush should be better. It
wasn’t all that bad last season coming up with 29 sacks, but that was
good for ninth in the Pac 10. The ends appear to be on the verge of big
things with Jamarr Robinson and James Brooks pushing starters Dexter
Davis and Luis Vasquez and creating a good rotation that should be
camped out in the backfield early and often.
The team will be far better if … it gets off to a hotter start.
ASU was outscored 128 to 50 in the first quarter, and while it made up
for it by outscoring teams 370 to 165 the rest of the way, it often had
to scramble a bit and rally late to get the momentum back its way. While
the offense tended to thrive on this, it’ll make life easier to come out
of the gate roaring.
The Sun Devils have a nice, easy start (Northern Arizona,
Stanford and UNLV) before the showdown against Georgia. Beat the Dawgs
and the season takes on a whole other meaning. In what might be one of
the toughest stretches of games anyone in America has to deal with, ASU
plays Georgia, gets a week off, and then has to go on the road to face
Cal and USC before getting a week off to prepare for Oregon.
Back-to-back road games at Oregon State and Washington come at an awful
time in early November, and the rivalry showdown against Arizona comes
after a tough battle against UCLA. Meanwhile the Wildcats get a week off
to prepare for the Sun Devils.
Best Offensive Player: Senior QB Rudy Carpenter. Somewhat
surprisingly, Carpenter was second in Pac-10 passing efficiency while
performing behind one of the worst lines in school history. Despite
being sacked more than any quarterback in the country, he rebounded from
a rough sophomore year to throw 25 touchdown passes and just 10 picks. A
fiery competitor, he’ll own most of the Sun Devil career passing marks
with better pass protection and decision-making.
Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Dexter Davis. A relentless pass
rusher who works as hard on the field as he does in the training and
film rooms, Davis has bagged 16.5 sacks in his first two seasons and is
on the verge of superstardom. A member of last year’s All-Pac-10 Second
Team, he’s added more muscle to his 6-2 frame and will be far better
against the run.
Key player to a successful season: Junior CB Terell Carr. The
graduation of current Washington Redskin Justin Tryon has left the Sun
Devils a little skittish about their pass defense. If, however, Carr
can make the jump from junior college to the Pac-10, the ASU secondary
quickly goes from a question mark to a strength. Assuming he holds off
Travis Smith, Carr will be joining FS Troy Nolan and CB Omar Bolden, two
stalwarts for the Devil defensive backfield.
The season will be a success if ... Arizona State wins nine games
and gets back to the Holiday Bowl. The four-game stretch of Georgia,
Cal, USC, and Oregon will probably keep the program from aspiring to
loftier goals. However, there’s enough returning talent in Tempe for the
Sun Devils to be the next-best-thing to USC in the Pac-10 for a second
straight year. It won’t equal a Rose Bowl, but it will represent another
brick in the foundation that Erickson & Co. are laying.
Key game: Sept. 20 vs. Georgia. You want some momentum to take
into the three-game gauntlet of Cal, USC, and Oregon? How about beating
a Bulldog team that could be ranked No. 1 in the country? When Erickson
talks about making Arizona State a national program with national title
aspirations, winning this type of game is what he has in mind.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Opponents 55 for 382 yards – Arizona State 29 for 214 yards
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 128 – Arizona State 50
- Penalties: Opponents 97 for 800 yards – Arizona State 81 for 739 yards