TwistNHook: There are many concerns about the upcoming football season for any self-respecting, self-loathing Cal fan. Last year, we lost every road game save for WSU, ensuring that many of our home games are now revenge games. Two years ago, we lost every road game save for Oregon, ensuring that every return trip now is a revenge game.
And ASU is no different. Two years ago, we went to Arizona State right at the start of the Cal-lapse. We lost a game where we were up 13-0 and 20-7 at various points. But ASU came back furiously and the Cal-lapse was in full motion. It was frustrating and I very much look forward to Cal taking care of business at ASU.
The first thing that jumps out at you when you think ASU is Rudy Carpenter is gone. Now they appear to have former backup Danny Sullivan at QB. After 4 years of Carpenter, you have to wonder how things will move forward. And it appears my concerns might have some foundation in reality (a first).
It wasn’t a surprise to see the Arizona State defense control Saturday morning’s scrimmage inside the practice bubble. The unit has meshed well and is expected to be the Sun Devils’ calling card this season.
Previously offensively oriented, now they seem to be working towards leaning on their D. We'll see how well that works out. They do appear to have a bright young talent on D: LB Vontaze Burfict
The ranking of high school football players is often a ridiculous exercise. No one had heard of Tedy Bruschi when he went to the University of Arizona. Similarly, wide receiver Derek Hagan, who leads ASU in career receptions, was a lightly regarded two-star recruit out of high school.
But the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Burfict may actually be worth the hyperventilating. Erickson has compared him to Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, a future Hall of Famer.
Bray said, "He’s one of the better high school linebackers I’ve seen on film in a long, long, long time. We were extremely fortunate to get him. He will be a force as he grows and matures."
What makes Burfict special — aside from the physical intimidation — is his instinct for the game. Both Erickson and Bray noted that Burfict seems to have the innate ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Bray said Burfict has a better feel for what’s happening around him than Mark Fields, a standout linebacker for Washington State in the early 1990s and a first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in 1995.
"He does some things in practice you just can’t coach," Bray said.
Avinash: For some reason, when I think of ASU, all I think of are coeds. Does ASU have the hottest coeds in the country?
TwistNHook: Look, Avi, I understand what you are doing. I know you are trying to give carp some life and energy after being so tired with the birth of his son. And I'm sure he appreciates that!
But maybe we should just stick to talking about the football team and other related things. I'm sure if our readers want to read frustrated single males prattling endlessly about women they'd never have a chance with in real life, they can read Arthur Kade or Tucker Max.
Avinash: I believe Malcolm Gladwell's next book should investigate the relationship between the attractiveness of a team's coeds and their football team's relative success. Maybe he'll find out that all of Florida and USC's coeds were born during the summer months!
I went to google Arizona State football to do some research and the google map link showed up. Where do they show ASU football being? In the middle of a river. Salt River. Literally submerged in water. Salty water (maybe).
If that isn't apropros, I don't know what is.
If you want to find a place to start with the woefully underperforming 2008 team, look no further than the OLine:
ndeed, it's a small miracle that ASU has won 15 games in Erickson's first two years. In 2008, the Sun Devils allowed 34 sacks — that made it 89 in two years — and rushed for only 89 yards per game, or 113th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
If you're surmising that ASU has had offensive-line problems, bingo. Erickson inherited a shortfall of big uglies when he took over in 2007 for Dirk Koetter, whose recruiting classes affecting Erickson's teams included seven offensive linemen who either left or didn't qualify, including a 4-for-4 wipeout in 2004.
They feel better about their O-Line this year. Certainly, one of the most memorable moments of the 2008 season was due to poor O-Line play.
Avinash: It's always a scary game in the desert. It's usually at night, which means the fans are loud and rowdy, so it can definitely give some added impetus to the home team.
I really don't know. ASU has played us tough in Erickson's tenure, splitting the series. This could be a dangerous game if we're playing up to our potential going into it.
HydroTech: So their starting QB from last year Rudy Carpenter is gone. Their top WR, Michael Jones is gone. Sounds like their passing game might not be as good as it used to be? Danny Sullivan is their new QB but he's largely untested having only played in garbage games when the games have already been won and lost. How glad do you think Sullivan is now that the Pain Train is gone?
TwistNHook: Probably as happy as NFC North QBs that Follett has suffered a shoulder injury!
So, that's the O. What about the D? Well, I talked previously about that incoming LB who could make some strides. But he might not be a big player until next year. Right now, their leader is Dexter Davis.
ASU: One of the Sun Devils' most consistent defenders and most dangerous pass-rushers...ranks as one of the top defensive ends in school history...enters the 2009 season fourth in Sun Devil history with 27.5 career sacks (minus 179 yards)...has finished in the top three in sacks in the Pacific-10 Conference each of the last two seasons...has started all 38 games of his ASU career...totaled 113 tackles (72 solo), 39.0 tackles for loss (minus 212 yards) and eight forced fumbles in his three seasons at ASU...led all Pac-10 freshmen in 2006 in quarterback sacks (6.0), tackles for loss (10.5) and forced fumbles (three)...recorded the third-most sacks by an ASU freshman in school history, trailing the 10.0 sacks made by both Terrell Suggs (2000) and Shante Carver (1990).
This is where Davis comes in. He doesn't look all that imposing, and he's not full of pomp and swagger. But he's a quarterback's nightmare and one of the nation's top returning sack artists. He has 27 1/2 sacks for his career, and is the only returning player in Division I to have double-digit sacks in the past two seasons.
He's the kind of player who can disrupt an offense, change a game.
"I want to be known as a relentless player who worked hard, and made something of himself," Davis said. "And I want to go down as one of the best ever."
Along with Davis, linebacker Mike Nixon, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy and defensive back Omar Bolden are all highly-touted players. They will give Pac-10 offensive coordinators much reason for pause. If not, the season already is lost.
In some ways, the upcoming season is a bridge year to 2010, when a Pac-10 title may be within reach, when Dennis Erickson can be judged on the impact he's making in Tempe. But in the short term, the coaching staff is letting the current group know that losing records are simply unacceptable at ASU.
To avoid another, the defense must be spectacular.
Avinash: You're right Twist, this is going to be about Cal's offense not making mistakes against ASU's defense.
From Pitchfork Nation.
One first down on their first six possessions.
I’m not quite sure whether to chalk that up to Arizona State’s defense being all it’s hyped up to be or to be even more concerned with the state of this team’s offensive attack.
Either way you look at it, there’s one thing to take from yesterday’s scrimmage at Sun Devil Stadium: this team is going to have to win games based on defense and nearly defense alone in 2009.
Sure, there were the offensive highlights. Kyle Williams broke off a stunning 79-yard punt return. Gerrell Robinson, who has been highly praised by everyone in the program for making so much progress between this time last year and now, caught a touchdown pass from Danny Sullivan and gained 116 yards.
However, beyond that, you could hear crickets chirping from the Devils’ offense.
As I harped on earlier this week, this team simply has no running game. Dimitri Nance turned a corner early in the session for a nice 20-yard dash, but then averaged 1/3 of a yard on each of his subsequent three carries. Cameron Marshall led all rushers with 23 yards, but six ASU running backs combined for just 92 yards of total rushing. That doesn’t include Brock Osweiler’s 22 yards and touchdown on the ground, however.
HydroTech: Who has tougher academics? Your local community college or ASU?
Yellow Fever: But who has more attractive co-eds?
TwistNHook: I hope someday that our female readers will return to this blog.
Avinash: Twist, when you tell your wife she's attractive, does she throw you out of the house?
TwistNHook: What an ever so delightful non-sequitir!
Avinash: Here is another one:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
|Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
|Arizona State Snubs Obama
TwistNHook: So, who do you guys think will win this one? I say Cal holds on 21-10.
Avinash: In terms of the score, probably.
But we're still bringing up the rear in terms of coeds.
Whoops, double entendre!
TwistNHook: Triple le sigh.