Today, we are talking with House Of Sparky about the 2011 football season. Spring Practice is behind us and the Sun Devils have a new attitude. They have new uniforms and there is renewed hope in Tempe. People are predicting ASU to win the Pac-12 South. But with great expectations comes great pressure.
Dennis Erickson has been around the block a thousand times. Does he have the wisdom and intelligence to gel the previously underachieving ASU team into a Pac-12 South powerhouse? House Of Sparky lends their in depth insight into some of our core questions about the Sun Devils squad. They finished the season on a high note with a thundering upset over the Arizona Wildcats. Can they carry that momentum into the 2011 season?
Join me after the jump to learn more about the Tempe Tacklers. Many thanks to House Of Sparky for being so awesome! GO BEARS!
1. What were the core questions that you had hoped would be answered by Spring Practice? Were conclusions reached?
Mainly, I wanted to see how the team would react to the departures of several key Sun Devils, including Lawrence Guy, Steven Threet, Kerry Taylor, and Thomas Weber. By the time the Spring Game rolled around, we were far more concerned about the ACL tear suffered by CB Omar Bolden.
I'm glad that Brock Osweiler appears to be settling down nicely into the starting QB role. It's not easy to assume that position in the Pac-12, but after leading the team to victory against Arizona last December, the time has come for Brock to rock.
2. Any major style changes coming our way in the fall? New offense or defense installed?
We're sticking with the offense that worked well last season. If you recall, our running backs run a lot of swing routes. The goal is to spread the linebackers out, since many teams use an OLB to cover the RB out of the backfield. With the linebackers committed to the outside of the field, slant routes can be utilized effectively for short-to-medium yardage pickup.
When the coaches adjust and use more zone, that's when the running back is given the ball, and hopefully he can make some moves around the defenders for a big pickup.
On defense, we're coming at you with a strong defensive line and one of the best linebackers in the nation, Vontaze Burfict. The loss of Omar Bolden is a huge blow to our secondary, but with the strong front seven we should be able to minimize his loss with good blitz packages.
3. What players emerged on offense? On defense?
DT William Sutton was ineligible to play last season due to academic issues, but he's good to go in 2011. He is a strong, big lineman who is going to either destroy the competition or be another mediocre tackle. Here's hoping for the former.
WR Gerell Robinson, a senior, is finally coming into his own. He made a lot of catches in the spring and looks to be building a good rapport with Osweiler. He's very tall and has good hands.
4. What are your biggest worries coming out of spring ball for the fall?
The loss of Omar Bolden, the inexperience of Brock Osweiler, and wondering whether or not star running back Deantre Lewis will play in 2011. Lewis was shot in the winter by a stray bullet back in California, and he has not been back to ASU since. Word has it that he won't be back to Tempe until the fall, which is worrisome.
5. Project your season. Contender? Pretender? Middle of the pack?
The team seems to think BCS National Championship Game, but my aspirations are slightly more muted. I think ASU is a top contender for the Pac-12 South, and if all goes well, they should be either hosting or playing in the Pac-12 Championship Game. A Rose Bowl is not an insane goal, but lets walk before we can run, Sun Devils.
6. Will Brock Osweiler & crew meet all expectations?
Only if they can win ten games. The defense needs to step up again in 2011, and the offense must score more points.
7. Fan of the new uniforms? Or too Oregon-y?
The uniforms are awesome. I was at the unveiling last month and the players are really excited about them. They give off a real swagger.
They don't remind me of Oregon so much; they are more reminiscent of a Florida State in my mind. This, of course, isn't a bad thing, as FSU has some great uniforms.
The black jerseys are my favorite, but all white could look very interesting on national TV as well. As long as recruiting gets a boost, I'm good with these duds.