Friday, July 20, 2007


Premature Premonitions, Part I: The Offense

Due to extreme boredom and sobriety, here's a not-so-quick prognostication of the upcoming season. Keep in mind that 1) I'm not an expert 2) I didn't actually see a lot of games live last year, 3) I didn’t see anything at spring practice and 4) it's mid July. You’re probably wondering why you’re going to read this longwinded piece, but it’s because it’s the middle of the offseason and you’ll take any football-related coverage you can, you sick puppy. I've been reading my copy of the Phil Steele CFB Preview way too much and these are my thoughts considering the following huge questions that won't be answered until Camp Tontozona at the earliest:

Does Dennis Erickson still have the magic?
Will the players respond well to the new staff?
How bad will we miss Kyle Caldwell and Jordan Hill?
Which Rudy C. will show up?
Will Omar Bolden qualify academically?
Will anyone plug the gushing dike that is the #2 corner position?
Have the receivers learned how to run routes?
Can Josh Barrett live up to the hype?

Having said that, here goes.

The Offense

QB- The question will be which Rudy Carpenter shows up. On top of being rattled by Decisiongate, Rudy played through a sophomore slump with each hand broken at some point during the season. If he can regain his freshman moxie where he had a 20-2 touchdown-interception ratio and led the nation in passing efficiency then Tempe’s in for a treat. Erickson will have him working out of the shotgun formation, something he often used in high school and pleaded with Coach Koetter to try. The running backs are looking good and should take some of the pressure off of Carpenter. Should he go down with injury, backup Danny Sullivan played well in the spring game and matured physically in the offseason adding 30 pounds. It has been said that Erickson’s playbook is similar to Koetter’s in many regards but that the plays have different names, something that may help to speed up the learning curve for both. Samson Szakacsy and Chasen Stangel are both VHT’s that should have at least a year to learn.

WR- The receiving corps last year was young and it showed as the unit created a lot of the blame put on Rudy Carpenter through bad route running and dropped balls. Rudy C’s production spiraled downward in 2006 after losing Derek Hagan, Matt Miller, and Moey Mutz to graduation, Terry Richardson and Jamaal Lewis to stupidity, and Rudy Burgess to injury. Burgess should be reliable and productive now that he’s back to receiving full-time but at least one of the young receivers needs to step it up. Smith, Jones, and Kimbrough have all shown flashes of brilliance but have lacked the consistency required to earn a starting spot. Chris McGaha has quietly worked his way up the depth chart through consistent play but may get lost in the fold if Brandon Smith or Kyle Williams lives up to their hype. The two have been compared to Derek Hagan and Shaun McDonald, respectively, but neither have done much in actual games so far. My nod for the starting three would be Burgess, Smith and McGaha.

RB- Ryan Torain has a lot of JR Redmond in him and he fits the mold of other successful Erickson RB’s like Steven Jackson and Ken Simonton, big guys with cutting ability that can catch the ball well out of the backfield. Torain’s gaining a lot of praise this offseason including making’s All-American 1st team, so living up to the hype is as critical as staying healthy. There’s plenty of talent waiting in the wings in the somewhat forgotten Keegan Herring, who has better breakaway speed and cutting ability than Torain but lacks the physicality to consistently run up the middle. Dmitri Nance is small in size but has a knack for picking up the tough short yards and always manages to fall forward. Nance was highly decorated but slowly recruited in Texas high school football and he may be playing with something to prove. Many are excited to see what he can do if given consistent carries but, barring injuries, that probably won’t happen until at least next year.

TE/H-back- Losing Zach Miller to the NFL was huge but not all hope is lost. Older brother Brent is back for a senior season and was solid as a blocker while consistent as a receiver. There isn’t much experience behind him but there is unproven talent. Florida transfer Dane Guthrie has yet to make an impact, Andrew Pettes was the other top TE signed with Zach Miller but has done next to nothing, and Jovon Williams and Lance Evbuomwan are young but physically gifted. Someone in addition to Brent Miller will need to earn their keep as Dennis Erickson likes to use a two-TE set on a regular basis.
Lil' Brent scores the game winner at UW.

OL- Zach Krula’s reception of a 6th year of eligibility is huge and should offset the loss of team leader and three-year starter Andrew Carnahan. Krula was a road-grading tackle that was a big part of the early season success in 2005 against Temple, LSU, and Northwestern but he hasn’t played since due to a broken ankle. Big Zach lines up next to five other guys that have more than seven starts apiece thanks to a host of injuries over the last few years, something that can hopefully be remedied through a new training staff. Seniors Mike Pollak an Brandon Rodd are the anchors at center and left tackle, while Julius Orieukwu, Robert Gustavis, and Paul Fanaika have all filled in well. Run blocking should be a strength this year and sack statistics should go down in the new shotgun formation. In addition to Carnahan, the unit lost Leo Talovou to personal reasons, Stephen Berg to graduation, and Saia Falahola to the defensive line. The top seven guys are very good but if the injury bug strikes as hard as it has in the past the offense could be in big trouble. Backups with game experience include Richard Tuitu’u, Thomas Altieri, Shawn Lauvao.

Defense, Special Teams, and a schedule forecast will make up parts II and III. See you next week, you poor depraved soul.

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You sir are the guru of Sun Devil Football. I salute you! In ZAX - Zeta Psi 822
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