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Q+A with ASU site Pitchfork Nation

Well, it's that time of the year again.  The most wonderful time of the year.  Arizona State Week.  When everything seems magical and new and fresh again.  And for this most amazing week, we have a Q+A with the one, the only, PITCHFORK NATION!  Bringing us everything Sun Devil.  So, grab a candy cane, put on your fake Dennis Erickson beard, and join us after the jump for more info on the Arizona State Sun Devils.

(And don't forget to check out our interview with them on all things Cal!)

1.  Tell us more about Vontaze Burfict?  We've heard he once killed a terrorist with a honey jar and then impregnated his wife. ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

You're clearly leaving out the time he rescued a burning bus full of schoolchildren from driving off a cliff while passionately reciting Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Let's give the man the credit he's due.

Vontaze has the most talent and most intensity for a freshman that I've seen in seven seasons of covering ASU football. However, he's got a serious problem with controlling that intensity and it has led to five ridiculous personal foul penalties over the past two games. Dennis Erickson, he of the "anything goes" philosophy at Miami, actually has has to tell him to REIN IT IN.

However, the guy has incredible open field tackling skills and a nose for the ball carrier not seen here since Dale Robinson roamed the 2nd level of defense. He's got a future here, that's for sure. He has too much raw talent and passion for the game to not succeed at the collegiate level.

I do wonder about his mental state though. He took a leaping penalty on a Stanford field goal attempt last week and, in true McNabb-ian fashion, Dennis Erickson claimed after the game that Burfict didn't know there was a rule against it.

Er, what? I KNEW what he did was a personal foul the instant I saw it and I haven't touched a competitive football field since Pop Warner. His awareness may be the only thing I worry about constantly.

2.  How much is ASU going to win by?

Please. We're just lucky that college football games can't end in ties anymore.

If ASU can regain their prowess at stopping the run and find a way to stifle Jahvid Best, they should be in good position to win. The secondary has struggled over the last few weeks without Omar Bolden, so you know, if I was Kevin Riley, I'd throw. A lot. Over Terell Carr. 

3.  Please tell us about the two best players on your team.

Mike Nixon and Chris McGaha are the defensive and offensive standouts. Nixon is one of the unlikeliest candidates to be a team cornerstone since Charlie Ward but he has evolved into one of the best linebackers in the Pac-10. He's just so smart on the field - he knows exactly what's going on everywhere between the lines at any time. He rarely loses his cool and has great hands and great tackling ability.

Chris McGaha catches anything and everything near him. He's the most dangerous offensive weapon we've got right now simply through his ability to get open consistently.

Now, would you sit those two players on the bench the entire game in exchange for Jahvid Best sitting out the entire game?

No, because I'm still fairly sure ASU can stop the run, even after last week's debacle at The Farm. Plus, if McGaha sits, I don't trust anyone else on this team to actually catch a thrown football. 

4.  How has ASU dealt with losing Rudy Carpenter?

By crying for a true freshman to be the program's savior despite the fact that he hasn't started a game and has attempted 11 passes in three 3 games.

Seriously. We're seven games in and people still can't deal with the fact that Rudy, as much as many despised him, is gone and that we're sitting here with Los Gatos' prodigal son Danny Sullivan as our starter. We all knew that the QB situation would be pretty uncertain after RC's graduation but we never imagined that Sullivan would be this ineffective.

Therefore, as you'll see on Saturday, ASU's offensive play calling has been dramatically reduced. The Devils run the same three or four run plays and have lost the ability to stretch the field because of Sullivan's absolute inability to throw an accurate deep ball (unless Chris McGaha is wide open against Nick Holt's defense with 0:05 left).

If you love off-tackle sweeps, short out routes and running backs who prefer to run backwards rather than forwards, you'll love ASU's new offense. 

5.  Do you think Dennis Erickson is the man to take ASU to the next level?

I still think so. He's done it in so many places (except San Francisco) that I still have faith in the guy. The problem this year, I firmly believe, is not him. It's the talent he has to work with this year.

DE continues to do a bang-up job recruiting and I really do think he's got the Sun Devils set up for success in 2010 and beyond. He attracted Osweiler AND Michigan transfer Steven Threet to the program. Cameron Marshall has been a nice surprise at RB and he's got talent packed to the gills on defense.

It has certainly been a major frustration this season for many fans who are crying for his head because no one wants to admit that this year was going to be an uphill battle with a first year starting QB. Erickson still knows the game inside and out and knows what buttons to push at any given time. I'll give him through 2011, but if the program isn't at least back battling for 1st or 2nd in the conference by then, I reserve the right to change my mind. 

6.  Osweiler or Sullivan?

I haven't publicly endorsed either since going to bat for Danny Sullivan after the Georgia loss.

That was a mistake. 

At this point, I absolutely have to stick with Sullivan, but not based on his own merits. The fact of the matter is that I still have this gut feeling that this team would not play any better with Brock Osweiler anyway. At its essence, Osweiler and Sullivan are still first-year starters despite the three year gap in college experience. The only difference I think starting Brock would make would be a larger inclination to throw the deep ball because he might be more accurate that Danny when going long.

However, with bowl eligibility already slipping from the Sun Devils grasp and Sullivan not doing anything to really HELP ASU get the requisite two more wins, any change would be good change. I just don't see it happening, though. DE has this unwavering confidence in Danny, something I'm at this point convinced he got from reading it off of a fortune cookie. I can't think of any other real explanation for why Erickson has stood behind Danny so fervently.

7.  What was going through your mind during the last play against UW the other week?

Let me refer your readers to this video and I'll point out my thought processes at certain timestamps:

0:07: "Really? Overtime? I can't take much more of this."

0:12: "Overtime? With that guy? -reaches for bottle of Jack Daniels-"

0:24: "If this is an off-tackle sweep to Dimitri Nance, my shoe is going through my TV. I don't care how much it costs to fix. My shoe, that TV!"

0:27: "The prevent defense: feel the power!"


0:31: "da;lsfjasdl;kfgdsl;kfjsadl;kfjasdl;fjfjiwefjwe;oifj;asdlkfjalsfj DON'T DROP THE FOOTBALL CHRIS!"

0:36: "OK Danny. We know that everybody poops, but please stand up before you do it in the middle of Frank Kush Field."

0:46: "WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST WITNESS? And for that matter, why did it take so long to get the ball to Chris McGaha?"

1:01: "That may have been the first time I've seen a grown man's face fully twitch in anger."

2:32: "Holy crap, we are actually going to win this football game based on something Danny Sullivan did. -pinches self- Yup, still alive."

8.  Who do you want to punch in the face?

Petros Papadakis. Is that so wrong? I mean, I'm sure there's like, a line to do so, but I'll gladly wait or take a number or whatever.

Many thanks to Pitchfork Nation for their help with these.  Good luck to them and GO BEARS!