Monday, April 16, 2007


Spring games impresses few

This does not look like a satisfied coach.

It sounds like there is still a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball, particularly the offense. This quote from Head Coach Dennis Erickson is probably the most telling:
“We have a long way to go, we really do... we’re not even close to where we need to be to be successful in this conference."

Ouch. Headlines from the major papers include "Nothing abuzz in ASU football spring game" and "Offense sluggish in spring game," subtle words that denote an apparent end to the Erickson honeymoon.

While the defense is improved, largely due to emotion and a new found aggressive attitude, the offense looks to have as many if not more issues than it did last year. Rudy has a hitch in his throwing motion that has apparently worsened over time. Receivers still can't run precise routes. Rudy C. locks in to Brandon Smith too often. Zach Miller will sorely be missed as there is little depth behind Brent Miller. Rudy Burgess was notcably less than 100% even though he led all receivers with 73 yards on seven catches, which speaks volumes considering he missed almost all of of the spring practices. Then again, he is the shizznit.

He wins the award for best use of helmet stickers, too.

Five turnovers is way too many, even for a practice. Carp's excuse was that "it’s the fact that a lot of guys touched the ball, that don’t get to touch the ball on an every down basis. If you don’t touch the ball that much you have a chance for more turnovers." That's a horsepoopy excuse if I've ever heard one, and the quarterback making excuses for poor play on the part of others is getting old. How about protecting the rock and not letting others strip it for a change? Yay to the D for going after it, but cardinal rule #1 on offense is to not turn the ball over. Besides, are you telling me that Ryan Torain isn't an every down back? Shut up, stupid. Sam Keller still pwns you and he displayed it in his spring debut in Lincoln, oh by the way.

Back to ASU's offense, the most dangerous set ought to be a three-wide with Burgess, Kyle Williams, and Brandon Smith lined up at receiver, with Miller at tight end and Torain in the backfeld. Smith posesses serious deep-ball speed, Williams the ability to make people miss, and Rudy Fucking Burgess can do anything he wants when he's 100%. Torain can pound the ball up the middle as well as anyone in the Pac-10 this year and he's very good on catching the ball in the flat. Sophomore RB Dmitri Nance has been working his way up the depth chart using the same characteristics and many think he has passed Keegan Herring as the #2 back at Arizona State. Some have said that Herring has not improved at all since setting the ASU freshman rushing record three years ago.

The Saia Falahola experiment looks like it will pay off for the Devils, as the high school offensive lineman who was known for his aggressive style and pancake-blocking ability has switched into a mean, lane-clogging defensive tackle. Ryan McFoy's switch to linebacker could still pay off, but he'll need to add some muscle to be able to stuff the run. That may be moot before long, though, since the corner position opposite Justin Tryon is glaringly vacant, especially with the late news that Chad Green is in a Scottsdale ICU after a violent early-morning collision with a drunk driver. The way things are shaping up, any team with more than one competent WR on the field at a time will exploit the Sun Devil secondary for muchos yard-os. Many are calling for current high school senior Omar Bolden to step up and play when he arrives on campus in the fall.

Kicking is going to be an adventure. Punting has been adequate at best, while long-snaping and placekicking have been nothing short of adventurous. Thomas Weber looks like money when he's 50+ yards out, but anything inside the half-century mark is a severe challenge. To make up for it though, Weber made an extra point on a snap that bounced twice on the way to the placeholder. You never know how valuable a long snapper is until you lose one. What's even more worrisome is that we don't have coach Tom Osbourne to throw under the bus anymore.

Rudy Carpenter needs to live up to his team leader and gym rat reputation by getting the receivers out to the practice field and working with them. One thing that seemed to plague last year's team was that with a glut of average receivers splitting up limited playing time, there was never a good chemistry with the quarterback throughout the season. There is talent at wideout, but it is very raw. Coach Erickson needs to foster some competition at this crucial position to get these guys working out extra hard in the off-season, making it abundantly clear that talent is breathing down their necks in the forms of Mike Jones and Chris McGaha.

So here we are facing a long, hot summer in the desert, where once again the team's greatest weaknesses are at corner, defensive line, and special teams. It's harsh to place such judgement on a team that is learning new schemes and coaches, but there are a lot of things that currently appear to be broken. The passion will undoubtedly be there, but will the execution? Time will tell, I suppose, but spring practices offered little insight on next season. The talent is there to be optomistic, but I can think of plenty of reasons to be guarded about any predictions.

My baseless, unqualified prediction for the 2007 Sun Devils: 8-4 with a loss to U of A, as much as I hate to say it. A slightly improved record based on a favorable schedule, but no real upgrade from ASU v. 20.06. We'll see how things shake up in August at Camp Tontozona and go from there.

Labels: , , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?