Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Basketball Notes

Well after taking almost two months off from updating this thing (due in part to ASU's poor performance on the football field and in part to school and life becoming more busy) it's back! Here are some notes from ESPN on ASU Basketball!

Officials made right call with BYU-Arizona State

Posted by Andy Katz

Bill McCabe worked as an official for the St. Petersburg Bowl game Saturday, came off the field and saw the controversial ending to the BYU-Arizona State basketball game on SportsCenter.

McCabe, who doubles as the Pac-10 coordinator of officials and had assigned the officials for the event in Glendale, Ariz., knew he would speak with official Kevin Brill, one of the officials who reversed Charles Abouo's flip basket as time expired. The initial call on the court was good, to give the Cougars a 77-76 win. But after a thorough review, the basket was called no good and Arizona State won 76-75.

"Kevin Brill said it was the toughest call he has had to make in his college career," McCabe said. "But Brill got it right. When the red light goes on, the ball is still in his hands."

McCabe said the red light is key if it can be in the picture with the shot. "The red light is on and the ball is in his hands," McCabe said.

"They slowed it down, frame-by-frame, and the ball was still in his hands," McCabe said.

BYU coach Dave Rose didn't see it that way.

"That's a pretty big play for us," said Rose, whose Cougars lost their first game of the season but have another Top 25 game on Jan. 3 against presently undefeated Wake Forest, this time in Provo where the Cougars have a 53-game homecourt winning streak.

Rose said the frustration settled in when the Cougars players and the Arizona State staff and players were standing around waiting and watching to see what call would be made.

Rose said "the play on the floor stands unless there is conclusive evidence. I'm not sure what they're watching."

Rose said he couldn't see the play as being conclusive. McCabe said Rose is confusing football and basketball that the play doesn't have to be conclusive to overturn, rather the ball can't be in the player's hands if the red light is on and the clock is at zero. The horn isn't used as a first indicator because the timing of the horn can be off as well as hearing it can be an issue in a loud arena.

Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said it was "obviously a close call, a difficult call but the ball was still in his hands when it was being reviewed. It was definitely a bang-bang play."

Sendek said it was difficult to stand idle waiting for a decision and that the swings of emotion were tremendous.

"It's hard to swallow. I don't see what everyone else sees [on the replay]," Rose said. "We played good and had plenty of chances to win."

• Officials Brill and Bobby McRoy are no strangers to controversy. They were on the Stanford-UCLA game last year that decided the Pac-10 title. The end of that game drew ire from Stanford after Lawrence Hill was called for a blocking foul late in the game on Darren Collison. Stanford felt then that it should have been a no call. Collison made the two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to force overtime. UCLA won in overtime.

• Rose said Wake Forest will be only the second ACC school to play at the Marriott Center in Provo. The other was a home-and-home with NC State. Why did Herb Sendek, then the coach of the Wolfpack go to Provo? "We wanted as good a strength of schedule as we could get," Sendek said.

Presents for coaches, players and fans

Posted by Fran Fraschilla

I'm in the holiday spirit this week, so I thought I'd give out Christmas presents for some of my friends around the college basketball world.

Happy holidays to all you basketball fans out there.

James Harden, Arizona State: A PR agent
Most college basketball fans have heard of Harden. But because of Pacific Coast Time and the Sun Devils' limited television coverage, they don't realize what they're missing. He is currently shooting almost 80 percent from the line, almost 50 percent from behind the arc and over 60 percent from inside the arc. Astonishingly, one of the country's best scorers is averaging almost seven rebounds and four assists a game, as well. If he were in the Big East or ACC, he'd be a front-runner for national Player of the Year.

ESPN Player of the Week

4. James Harden, So., Arizona State: Harden didn't have his best game Dec. 14, scoring a pedestrian nine points on five shots and committing five turnovers in ASU's one-point win over IUPUI. But he came up big -- scoring 30 and making 16 of 21 free throws -- in ASU's one-point, last-possession win over BYU on Saturday in Glendale, Ariz.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sun Devil News & Notes

Since Arizona State became a member of the Pac-10, it leads the series against Oregon State, 21-3-1, though the Beavers have won two of the last three games played at Corvallis. All-time the Devils lead 24-9-1, going 6-6-1 in Corvallis. In last year's contest ASU came from behind as Oregon State blew a 19-0 lead in large part because of five interceptions as the Devils won, 44-32. The Beavers lost by 12 despite piling up 514 total yards. Rudy Carpenter had 361 passing yards with four touchdowns, including touchdown passes of 64, 43, and 48 yards. This year though the Beavers secondary is among the best in the conference and they have an aggressive pass rush that will challenge the Devils offensive line (like that's a hard thing to do) and test Carpenter's sprained ankle.

The Sun Devils, by the way, are trying to avoid their first six-game losing streak since 1929. In the spirit of useless but fun information, here are some events that occurred in 1929: The St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago involving Al Capone, the first Academy Awards, the establishment of the Grand Teton National Park, Herbert Hoover was inaugurated as the 31st President, Vatican City becomes a sovereign state, the first color television, and the Old West Gunfighter Wyatt Earp died.

Carpenter will make his 39th consecutive start this weekend at Corvallis, leading the Devils lackluster offense that is averaging only 19.3 points per game. Jake Plummer started his final 40 games as ASU's quarterback from 1993-96. In order to finish bowl eligible the Devils must go 4-1 the rest of the way. Wins should be expected against Washington and Washington State, and most likely against UCLA, but the Devils need to pull off an "upset" over either Oregon State or Arizona in order to make a bowl game again this year.

ASU has had 27 players see their first NCAA action this season, many of them should see more playing time as the season wears on as the Devils look to break out of their slump. Erickson has had only three losing seasons in 20 years as a college head coach.

A couple of positives from the game Saturday was the play of TB Ryan Bass and TE Andrew Pettes. Bass ran for 56 yards on 10 carries to lead the Devils rushing attack and Pettes caught four passes for 40 yards from his tight end spot. Also the Devils had almost 70,000 fans at the game, as ASU looks to have its' highest average attendance since at least 1998.

Both Thomas Weber and Trevor Hankins punted the ball three times in the game Saturday. Hankins averaged 37.3 yards with a long of 53 but one touchback and Weber averaged 31.7 yards with a long of 37 and one inside the twenty yard line. Should be interesting to see who gets the majority of the punting duties this weekend, as Hankins showed some potential but also had a shanked punt of just 19 yards.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Weekend Update

Well the Devils have one thing going for them this weekend at least, no Pac-10 team has played well on the road. The best road win in the Pac-10 so far is Arizona's win over UCLA, not counting team's wins at Washington and Washington State because the local high school teams could travel up to Washington and win this season.

Keegan Herring is expected to make the start on Saturday, hopefully his hammy's will hold up long enough for the Devils to establish a bit of a run game. ASU ranks 117th out of 120 in rushing yards per game with just 83.7, a stat that has crippled the offense.

Rudy Carpenter is supposedly feeling better about his ankle, but will be tested by Oregon's pass defense. The Ducks lead the Pac-10 with 3.57 sacks per game and sacked Rudy nine times in last year's meeting.

Oregon still isn't set on who will be their starting quarterback for this weekend. It will either be Justin Roper, who began the season as the starter but injured his knee, or Jeremiah Masoli, who's been filling in. Either could start and both probably will play. Roper is the passer between the two but Masoli's running skills are better and fit slightly better into the Ducks' spread offense.

The Devils are expecting a large crowd this weekend of around 67,000. The game won't be televised after the athletic department decided to go with the traditional 7:00pm kick-off as opposed to moving the game up to the afternoon for television coverage. Oh, how far we've come since Gene Smith's days of selling our soul and frying our fans just to make that tv money and get out of the red.

ASU is currently fourth in the Pac-10 in attendance, averaging 63,738 for its first four home games. That's the highest average since 1998.

Saturday's game is the annual Hall of Fame game. This year's inductees are former coach Bruce Snyder, who took the Devils to the '96 Rose Bowl (winning national coach of the year) and is now battling cancer, Pat Tillman, and Eric Allen. The other inductee that catches the eye is Jeremy Veal of basketball fame.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

UofA's Lute Olson Stepping Down?

Lute Olson is not returning to Arizona. The Wildcats' Hall of Fame coach, who took a leave of absence in '07, is stepping down, a source told Dick Vitale. The university says it has not been informed.

More to come later as the Days of Our Lives Drama in Tucson unfolds.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some Notes on ASU/Oregon

The Devils' Clint Floyd, a true freshman who has started the past two games at safety, suffered a lacerated kidney (hopefully that's not as painful as it sounds), and will be out anywhere from two to four weeks. Also in the injury department, back up offensive lineman Matt Hustad will be out for the season after suffering an injury that will require a second knee surgery.

ASU's next opponent, Oregon, is expecting quarterback Justin Roper to be back near full strength and possibly start when the Ducks visit Tempe on October 25th. It will either be him or current starter Jeremiah Masoli, neither one being all to impressive. The Ducks' rank eighth in the Pac-10 in passing yards per game and their pass defense ranks ninth in the conference. Do you think we'll still stubbornly stick to the run against Oregon?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Oregon Game Time; Bowden Out

The ASU-Oregon game on October 25 will not be televised. Kick-off is scheduled for 7pm. The Devils are off this weekend.


Clemson fired coach Bobby Bowden today. The Tigers were 3-3 this year after being the favorites to win the ACC and ranked 9th in the preseason polls. Bowden went 72-45 at Clemson with eight bowl appearances in 9+ seasons.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

At Least the Economy is Good..oh wait.

All good things must come to an end they say. It's true in the case of the economy, summer vacation, and the Suns' playoff runs. It's also true in the case of Rudy Carpenter. Carpenter's streak of 36 consecutive starts appears like it will come to a conclusion this saturday as the Devils take on USC.

Carpenter sprained his left ankle last week against California in the fourth quarter of the Devils loss and has been in a boot this week. He was without the boot Wednesday night at practice but did not participate in practice except for a few throws on the side with his ankle heavily taped.

Backup quarterback Danny Sullivan is expected to get his first career start. The junior has played in 17 games as a backup since 2006. Carpenter's current streak of 36 starts is the second longest of its kind in the nation.

The Devils are 27 1/2 point underdogs and have the 113th ranked rushing offense in the country, out of 120 teams.

Earlier this week ASU looked like they may get a break as USC starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was nursing an injured knee after injuring his knee against Oregon last week. However, the SC quarterback has responded with a good week of practices and is basically day-to-day. All-American lineback Rey Maualuga is also good to go against ASU on Saturday after sitting out last week due to a sprained knee. If Sanchez is unable to start the job will fall to Mitch Mustain, a transfer who was just No. 4 on the USC depth chart last week.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Burning the Bandwagon

Some series history with USC: Lost the last 8 games against USC, starting in 2000 with a 2OT loss at home. The Devils last win in the series was in 1999 at USC, 26-16. Dating back to 1998, ASU is 1-9 against USC. Overall in the series ASU trails 9-15 and is 4-7 all-time at USC.

Did we really expect anything different at California?
The last time the Devils won at Cal was in 1997. With the loss ASU is now 3-6 against California since 1998.

The last time ASU had lost three straight games was in 2006, Koetter's last season. The Devils started 3-0 but then lost the next three games to Cal, Oregon, and USC and finished the regular season 7-5. The last time the Devils had a losing record was in 2005, when losses to LSU, USC, Oregon, and Stanford dropped the Devils to 3-4. The last time ASU was 2-3 to start a season was in 2003, when they went on to finish 5-7.

Quarterback Rudy Carpenter is questionable for the USC game this weekend after suffering a sprained ankle at Cal. Rudy ran for the most yards of anyone on the field last weekend, however he doesn't get credit for any because they were yards accrued while running away from his terrible offensive line.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Notes on Cal; Munns Out

California opened up its' quarterback competition again on Tuesday as both Kevin Riley and Nate Longshore took equal reps in practice. Riley, a sophomore, got the starting nod over Longshore, a senior, in fall practice but both quarterbacks have seen playing time this season. Neither has been extremely impressive.

Good news for ASU, Cal will be without starting tailback Jahvid Best. He is the Bears' leading rusher and receiver but suffered a dislocated elbow. Best is averaging 7.1 yards per carry for a total of 421 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Bears' first four games. He ran for a combined 311 yards in Cal's first two games but was held to just 25 on 10 carries in their loss at Maryland, although he did have 5 receptions for 65 yards in that game.

Also on the injury front, offensive guard Chris Guarnero and defensive end Rulon Davis each sustained injuries last week.

The Sun Devils will be without the services of LB Gerald Munns for the remainder of the season. Munns will be out due to undisclosed personal issues. Munns was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week for Week 2 against Stanford but sat out the UNLV loss due to surgery on his hand. Morris Wooten, Mike Nixon, and Shelly Lyons will replace Munns. Wooten returned from a three game suspension to lead the Devils in tackles against Georgia with eight.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Upset Weekend

This weekend's games brought a plethora of upsets, starting Thursday night with Oregon State over USC. The Top 25 poll will get shaken up as the following seven teams lost:

#1 USC at Oregon State, 27-21
#3 Georgia vs. #8 Alabama, 41-30
#4 Florida vs. Mississippi, 31-30
#9 Wisconsin at Michigan, 27-25
#16 Wake Forest vs. Navy, 24-17
#20 Clemson vs. Maryland, 20-17
#23 East Carolina vs. Houston, 41-24

In addition to these upsets there were almost even more, as #15 Auburn held off Tennessee, 14-12, to avoid the upset, #25 Fresno State held off UCLA, 36-31, and #5 LSU held off a stubborn Mississippi State squad, 34-24.

It will be interesting to see how the Top 25 shakes out when the poll is released later today. Oklahoma will most likely take over the top spot after their 35-10 win over #24 TCU and most likely will be followed by Texas, Alabama, Missouri and LSU.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Basketball Season Yet?

With the off week to regroup and refocus, let's shift gears to basketball.

ATHLON SPORTS: Ranks ASU at 16th and has them finishing behind UCLA in the Pac-10, but advancing to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. James Harden, a second-team All-American, is listed as the country's best slasher.

BLUE RIBBON YEARBOOK TOP 25: Ranks the Sun Devils at 15th and predict them to finish 2nd in the Pac-10 behind UCLA.

RIVALS.COM: Ranks ASU 25th. Its NCAA prediction: At least one tournament win

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Notes on this Weekend's Game

The Devils will not only host the #3 Georgia Bulldogs, 12,000 of their closest friends, and an ABC National Audience, but will also be celebrating "Champions Weekend." ASU will be honoring former player Randall McDaniel and former coach John Cooper Saturday night, as they will be inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame in December. McDaniel will also see his number immortalized on the pressbox facade with the likes of Pat Tillman, Danny White, Whizzer White, Bobby Mulgado, John Jefferson, Mike Haynes, and Ron Pritchard. This is something slightly similar to the night where ASU named the playing field after Frank Kush. The Devils did so at halftime of a nationally televised game against #1 Nebraska and ended up shutting out and stunning the top ranked Cornhuskers 19-0. Does the similarity mean much? Not really, but i'll take anything at this point to help our cause this weekend. McDaniel is arguably the best offensive lineman to ever play for the Sun Devils. He was selected in the first round of the NFL draft after helping ASU win the 1987 Rose Bowl and was a first team All-Pac 10 selection twice. He had a 14 year NFL career and earned 12 Pro Bowl appearances en route to being named to the NFL's All-Decade team. Coach John Cooper was head coach at ASU from 1985-87, leading the Devils to three bowl games and having an overall record of 25-9-2 in Tempe. Cooper led the Devils to their first Rose Bowl berth in 1987 and beat Michigan to finish the season ranked #4 in the country.

An additional note about getting prepared for this weekend's game: ABC set up their quarterback "eye-in-the-sky" camera today at Sun Devil Stadium and are on campus to start setting up for the national broadcast come Saturday evening. Also, the Georgia fans are rolling into town. There were about a dozen or so walking around campus and the stadium today at various times.

Final Thoughts on the UNLV Game

I could write a book on my thoughts regarding the UNLV loss, but in order to not stir up emotions that have taken four days and multiple therapy visits to quell this will be just a short segment of notes.

First things first, UNLV made some amazing plays. They didn't give up when they were down 20-3, whether or not that's from the play calling is another whole issue, but the Rebels made ESPN highlight reel plays in that fateful fourth quarter. Secondly, our coaches and the players were caught looking forward to Georgia, no doubt about it. I believe our playcalling conservativeness was a result of the coaches asking themselves how they could best prepare the team to beat Georgia and the answer was to establish the run. By establishing a run game the Devils' coaches were hoping to get Georgia to then prepare for the run more, allowing them to throw the ball more effectively against the Dawgs. Our 20-3 lead then backfired on us because we were led to believe that our gameplan would work, but as the game wore on the running backs wore down and were less and less efficient and the Rebels made some great plays in shutting down our run game. The coaches had a preconcieved notion of running the ball a lot and that led to a stagnant offense with little emotion as it lacked a dynamic aspect to the playcalling. The blocked field goal attempt was a result of the left guard missing his block due to poor technique on the play and is an unfortunate mental mistake. There is absolutely no reason we should have lost that game but that is why we watch college football and play the games. Does this mean the Devils aren't a championship caliber team, not at all. Even the vaunted Trojans lost last year to lowly Stanford at home, the only difference being that was an even larger upset and it was a conference loss for the Trojans. This loss only hurts our pride, it might be in manslaughter proportions, but with Georgia and the rest of the Pac-10 on the schedule the Devils can put the loss behind them as a fluke.

Bottom line is this: Rehashing the game and second guessing will do nothing to change the score. Arizona State needs to put this loss behind them, take the frustration and anger from the loss and turn it into desire, passion, and determination to come out and play their finest game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Can the Sun Devils salvage the season? No, because the season isn't at a point to salvage. One non-conference fluke loss where we got caught looking ahead isn't going to cost anyone their job or ruin the season. The Devils are still 1-0 in the conference, where even a second place finish should challenge for a BCS bowl. So what can you do? Come out Saturday and cheer with a chip on your shoulder. Be as loud as you can and show the SEC and the nation that UNLV got lucky coming into Sun Devil Stadium and catching the Devils off guard. The sleeping giant has awoken.

Friday, September 12, 2008

SC Sideline turns Hollywood

Here is a list provided by USC of the notable celebs that will be in attendance and on the sideline for this weekend's hyped matchup between USC and Ohio State. I'm not sure the list can even begin to compare with UofA's new celeb fan, David Hasselhoff. Seen around some ASU games have been celebs such as Ike Diogu, Steve Nash, John Elway, Amare Stoudamire, Charles Barkley, and the spirit of Pat Tillman.

Jamie Foxx
Denzel Washington
Nick Lachey
Christian Slater
Henry Winkler
John Krasinski
Ed Helms
Robert Patrick
Kaitlin Olson
David James Elliot
Zach Galifianakis
George Eads
Jerry Bruckheimer
Alexis Jones

Dick Butkus
Isiah Thomas
Michael Strahan
Eddie George
Greg Oden
Amare Stoudemire
Anna Rawson
John David Washington

USC Football Alumni:
Anthony Munoz
Ronnie Lott
Marcus Allen
Charles White
Sam Cunningham
Rodney Peete
Dennis Thurman
Johnnie Morton
Todd Marinovich
Sean Salisbury
Jeff Bregel
Chris Hale
Mazio Royster
Malaefou MacKenzie
David Kirtman

USC 2008 Olympians:
Ous Mellouli
Larsen Jensen
Klete Keller
Erik Vendt

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ask & Ye Shall Receive

In order to keep my one reader, I do what's asked. So here's the Bad Voter of the Week...

Taylor Zarzour

His poll looked like this...

2 Florida
3 Georgia
4 Oklahoma
6 Wisconsin (Highest Ranking for Wisconsin)
7 Penn State (Highest)
8 Texas Tech
9 Ohio State (Lowest)
10 Texas
11 California (Highest)
12 Boise St (Highest)
13 BYU
14 USF
15 Missouri (Lowest)
16 Oregon
17 Wake Forest
18 Alabama
19 Utah
20 Florida State (Highest)
21 Kansas
22 Auburn (Lowest)
23 Fresno St
24 Arizona St
25 Notre Dame (Highest)

News, Notes, & GameDay

-- Offensive Coordinator Rich Olson was named one of the top coordinators of the week by Rivals.com. The Devils' convincing offensive performance against Stanford put up 472 total yards, including 345 through the air.

-- ASU LB Gerald Munns was named the Pac-10 defensive player of the week for his performance against Stanford.

-- Rumors of ESPN GameDay coming to town for the ASU-Georgia game have been swirling. According to various sources, if they were to select Tempe for the weekly show, the set would be located on the SRC's Intramural fields. Last time the GameDay crew came (USC in 2005) they set up in Lot 59N, and had a good view of the stadium and the buttes from the Northeast. My suggestion for location would be the steps of Old Main, it's a little more scenic than the SRC fields.

-- Four of the ballots for the AP Poll had ASU ranked #8 in the country. The Devils' lowest ranking was 25th in one ballot. In unrelated news, that voter got voted as the bad voter of the week. The Devils' average ranking was 14.5 and their median ranking in the 65 ballots was 14.

Friday, September 5, 2008

ASU-Stanford Game Preview & Breakdown

As we get ready for the Pac-10 opener against Stanford on Saturday, let's break down the match-ups and preview the other conference games this weekend.

-- Quarterbacks -- Devils
The edge here is way in favor of the Sun Devils. QB Rudy Carpenter was the model of efficiency last week, completing 22-28 passes for 388 yards, the most yards by a Sun Devil quarterback in a season opener ever. Carpenter also tied a school record for most consecutive completions with 13 straight succesful passes. Stanford's QB, Travita Pritchard, won a three-way battle for the spot in the preseason and didn't have impressive passing numbers in his opening game against the Beavers. He didn't make a crucial mistake in the close game however, expect that to change against the ASU defense.

-- Running Backs -- Stanford
Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, who has a brother on the ASU team, rumbled for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Cardinal's win. Gerhart missed most of last year with an injury, but returned to form and is a very powerful runner who can be difficult to tackle. The Sun Devils running game struggled a bit in their opener against the 'Jacks, as QB Carpenter led all rushers with 40 yards on QB scrambles. Expect a boost to the running game this week however, as Herring and DeWitty return to the rotation. Also, NAU ran an unique defense that made running the ball extremely difficult. Just because of these few question marks last game, all of which have a reasonable answer however, I give a slight edge to the Cardinal run game.

-- Wide Receivers -- Devils
The Sun Devils will be winning this battle nearly every game this year. A talented receiving corps will look to create havoc for defenses and help Carpenter put up some big numbers in his senior season. The group is led by Mike Jones, who is nursing a strained achilles but should play come Saturday. Jones had six catches for 162 yards last week and had a bad-luck fumble as he reached for the endzone on one long reception. Look for Taylor and Robinson to see a lot of passes thrown their way in this game too, especially if the Cardinal key against the Devils run game. And of course, Chris McGaha should see his fair share of Carpenter's throws.

-- OL vs. DL -- Draw
The Sun Devils have the stronger defensive line, with defensive ends Dexter Davis and Luis Vasquez leading the attack. Both are relentless in their pass rush and should create problems for Pritchard all game long. Davis recorded two sacks last weekend against NAU. Also watch for DT David Smith for the Devils, a somewhat undersized DT, he makes up for it with speed and savvy.
The Cardinal get the slight advantage of the offensive lines. Stanford's front line isn't overwhelming and will struggle with the Devils defensive front, but until the ASU line proves itself against a formidable opponent the edge goes to the visitor's offensive line.

-- Linebackers -- Stanford
Most likely the best group on the Stanford defense, their linebackers will use plenty of blitzes to try and test the ASU O-Line and force Carpenter to make rush decisions. For the Devils, Mike Nixon leads the linebacking corps, a somewhat underrated (myself included in underrating them) group on the strong Sun Devil defense.

-- Defensive Backs -- ASU
ASU's Troy Nolan, Rodney Cox, and Terell Carr will make Pritchard think twice before going downfield with a pass. These DBs are much improved over the Beavers secondary the Cardinal faced last year and I'm predicting come away with at least an interception from Pritchard.

-- Special Teams -- ASU
ASU's All-Everything Utility Man, Thomas Weber, handles every facet of the kicking game for the Devils. The Groza Award winner connected on all three field goals last week and averaged 43 yards per punt, with two punts inside the twenty. On kick-offs he averaged 67 yards and had three touchbacks in seven attempts. The Cardinal K, Aaron Zagory, made two of three field goals last week. He hit from 41 and 42 yards out and missed a 49 yard attempt. Their punter averaged 45 yards per punt, with one inside the twenty.
The Devils line up two big play returners on kick-offs in Kyle Williams and Chris McGaha. Williams will also handle most punt return duties. Watch for Williams to take one back to the promised land this weekend.

-- The 'X' Factor -- ASU
This is one of the few legit upset games this weekend in college football. Stanford is much improved and has lost two straight to the Devils by ridiculously lopsided scores. The Cardinal will go on to upset quite a few teams this year in the Pac-10 as they keep improving under Harbough, but with all that being said with the Cardinal already having knocked off Oregon State in Week 1 the Devils won't be overlooking them in Week 2. Add that with the 100+ temperature, 9,400 students, and 68,000 fans in the House of Heat and we have a Sun Devil victory. ASU must not overlook or underestimate this team though, as they are no longer the Pac-10 cellar-dwellers.

Other Pac-10 games this week include Arizona against Toledo, California travelling to Washington State, #18 Oregon hosting Utah State and former ASU assistant Brent Guy, Oregon State going to Happy Valley to face #19 Penn State and JoePa, and the 15th ranked Stormin' Mormons heading to the Pacific Northwest to take on Washington.

Weekly News, Notes, & More

-- The absence of Sparky at midfield created quite a stir this past week, as rumors swirled about the university phasing out the iconic imp.
Well rest assured, Sparky is back on the field. Although still not at the 50 yard line, Sparky will be on the south side on the 25 yard line. The north 25 yard line will feature the Sun Devil Stadium 50th Anniversary logo.

-- Contrary to the news reported across the ESPN Ticker on Thursday night's football game, WR Mike Jones and RB Keegan Herring are expected to play this Saturday against the Furd. Herring missed a game for the first time in his career last week against NAU as he nursed a sore hamstring, but has been running at practice this week and is ready to get back on the field. Jones is expected to play after he sat out two practices with a strained achilles. According to Erickson, Jones "ran pretty good" and he "would be surprised if he didn't play." Also returning this week from an injury is RB Shaun DeWitty. DeWitty, ASU's biggest running back, sat out last week's game with a hamstring injury.

-- QB Rudy Carpenter will start his 33rd straight game on Saturday, he and Purdue's Painter lead all quarterbacks in the nation in most consecutive starts.

-- From the ESPN "Ten Things to Watch for Saturday" list:

2. Put '55' to bed: A 41-3 victory doesn't raise many fretful eyebrows for a winning team, but Arizona State bludgeoned Stanford by that count in its 2007 Pac-10 opener, while -- eyebrow arch now! -- giving up five first-half sacks. Thus commenced a storyline that continues today with the oft-repeated stat of 55 sacks yielded last year by the Sun Devils OL. Stanford's defensive front is stout, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage last Thursday against Oregon State. If the rebuilt Sun Devils offensive line, however, can at least reach a stalemate, then...

3. Given time, Carpenter will shine: If Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter isn't running for his life against Stanford, he will pick apart the Cardinal secondary, which won't match up with the Sun Devils skill and depth at WR, even if Michael Jones is limited by a toe injury. Oregon State and its outstanding WRs piled up over 400 yards passing; Carpenter could equal that.

8. What about Gerhart's encore?: Stanford running back Toby Gerhart ate up Oregon State with 147 yards on 19 carries and two TDs. The 230 pounder has the speed to get to the corner and the size to make things difficult once he breaks the line of scrimmage. He shredded the Beavers typically rugged run defense, so what will he do against the Sun Devils? If there's not a lot of room for Gerhart and the Cardinal running game, then things will be much harder for Stanford, which struggled to establish its passing game against the Beavers and is thin at receiver.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Scoreboard Watching

Pac-10 Results:

-- Stanford 36 Oregon State 28
Oregon State fumbled away an opportunity to tie the game with 50 seconds left. After a first quarter pillow fight, both teams decided to score some points and make it a ballgame. RB Gerhart led the Cardinal with 147 yards on the ground.

-- #3 USC 52 Virginia 7
Sanchez threw for 338 yards as the Trojans romped Virginia. The score after the first was 21-7, but the Trojans shut out the Cavaliers the rest of the way en route to their shalacking.

-- Oklahoma State 39 Washington State 13
Oklahoma State jumped out to a 15-0 lead at the half and never looked back as they easily handled the Cougars.

-- California 38 Michigan State 31
Vareen's long TD sealed Cal's win. Best led the Bears with 111 yards rushing.

-- Arizona 70 Idaho 0
Arizona's first shutout since 1996 against the worst team in the FBS in front of 47,511 at Arizona Stadium.

-- #21 Oregon 44 Washington 10
Oregon dominated every facet of this game in their romp behind QB Masoli. RB Johnson had 124 yards rushing and Masoli threw for 126.


-- #1 Georgia over Georgia Southern, 45-21

-- UNLV over Utah State, 27-17

Some upsets:

-- East Carolina 27 over #17 Virginia Tech 22

-- Bowling Green 27 over #25 Pitt 17

-- Utah 25 over Michigan 23

-- Louisiana Tech 22 over Mississippi State 14

-- Arkansas State 18 over Texas A&M 14

-- #24 Alabama 34 over #9 Clemson 10

-- Cal Poly 29 over San Diego State 27

Some near upsets:

-- Maryland over Delaware, 14-7

-- North Carolina over McNeese State, 35-27

-- Arkansas over Western Illinois, 28-24

-- San Jose State over UC Davis, 13-10

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Devil Dome

According to eyewitness reports from House of Heat tailgate correspondents, the ASU practice bubble has been struck by lightning and in the resulting 80mph winds has been blown all across Tempe.

On campus trees have fallen on cars and in the roads and along with power lines are down all across campus.

The campus saw 1.5 inches of rain in less than 30 minutes as two storm cells hit suddenly. Another two cells are on their way in what is the storm of the year at least, possibly the decade, as lightning has filled the sky constantly for 3+ hours and 75+ mph winds have caused chaos throughout Tempe.

According to a Phoenix fire captain, "Tempe got hit the hardest. Tempe looks like a war zone right now."

More news when it becomes available and an ASU Athletic Department representative is on site to comment.

**12:24 AM**

According to our reporter on site, the Dome has been shredded to pieces. "It looks like a marshmallow that was put in the microwave. It's beyond believable." He says that there are trees uprooted and thrown about and there is at least one car that has been crushed by a tree. Streets are still flooded around campus, as Tempe (especially the ASU area) got the brunt of the storm.

ASU Assistant AD Mark Brand has stated that no one was injured when the bubble deflated and was damaged.

More information will be posted as soon as we get it.

**Morning Update**

This is a video taken by a student on campus during last night's storm. Winds were clocked at over 100 mph in the ASU/Tempe area to go with hail, 15 lightning strikes a minute, and torrential rain.

Devils Picked To Win; Some Injury News

-- ESPN's Feldman in his weekly predictions chose the Devils as 49-20 victors in the opener against the 'Jacks. He went on to add that NAU's best hope would be to pressure Carpenter consistently. My guess is that the Devils will have made enough adjustments on offense over the offseason to combat the high number of sacks and the pressure Rudy had to endure last season to make this feat for the Lumberjacks next to impossible. Look for the offensive line to exceed expectations this season as they play to prove the doubters wrong. He goes on to say that the quick ASU passing game will burn NAU, although he could see the Lumberjacks' passing game doing some damage too. My gut feeling is that NAU will put up 10 points or so in the first three quarters and then tack on a touchdown at the end in scrub time.

-- Possibly sitting out the NAU game will be RB Keegan Herring. Herring has been nursing a sore hamstring and has missed the past two days of practice. Coach Erickson has said that he would not risk playing Keegan if it would potentially keep him out for a longer period of time down the road. If Herring does in fact sit against the 'Jacks, Dimitri Nance would get the majority of the carries with Jarrell Woods and Ryan Bass also seeing action. Shaun DeWitty is unlikely to play in the NAU game, also because of a hamstring injury.

-- Oregon QB Nate Costa, who injured his knee last week in practice, will miss his second consecutive season. While repairing a partially torn meniscus, surgeons found a torn ACL. Costa missed last season due to an injury on the same knee. Justin Roper will start for the Ducks when they host Washington on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Students Sell-Out; More ESPN Notes

-- With demand as high as ever, ASU has sold out of its' student season ticket allotment this morning at around 10am, leaving a lot of upset students without tickets for the season. The tickets went on sale at the end of last semester however, so there isn't a whole lot of ground for frustrated students to complain on.

-- ESPN's Ivan Maisel predicted that the 2008-09 season would be a far less chaotic one than last year's season of upsets. While discussing Georgia and their 17 returning starters and USC's eight returning starters on defense, he had this to say about the wealth of experience and continuity that will favor the top teams this year...

"It's as if college football took a page from Major League Baseball before free agency, when you knew who played for which team. Al Kaline played right field for the Tigers. Willie Mays played center field for the Giants. And Rudy Carpenter played quarterback for the Sun Devils.

Oh, check that. Carpenter plays for No. 15 Arizona State now, and this is only his fourth season as starter. It just seems as if he's been around since the '60s."

Isn't it nice to have one of those players who never seems to graduate? Back in the day, Rich Alexis of Washington was one of those players who never seemed to leave, partially because they find ways to make your annual game miserable. Jesse Ainsworth might be able to be considered for that role, although how much so by opposing fans is a question. In an era of college sports where the top players hardly stay four years, it's an unusual feeling, so let's enjoy it.

-- A very interesting note from ESPN's Ted Miller regarding Pat Tillman and his still continued legacy at ASU...

"Pat Tillman, American war hero and former Arizona State All-American, will be one of eight former Sun Devils inducted into the school's Hall of Fame this year.
Tillman's life was an extraordinary one, and the woman who raised him, Mary Tillman, has intrepidly led a campaign to force the government to tell the truth about her son's friendly fire death in Afghanistan. She then wrote a book about him and her experience, "Boots on the Ground by Dusk."

So it figures that she would have wisdom to share with ASU's incoming student-athletes, which she did during an orientation seminar last week.
As for the Hall of Fame class, Tillman will be joined by his former coach, Bruce Snyder. The other inductees are Eric Allen (football), Jacinta Bartholomew (track and field), Brandie Burton (golf), Lisa Dacquisto (softball), Markus Mollica (wrestling) and Jeremy Veal (basketball).

The inductees will be honored at the Hall of Fame football game on Oct. 25 vs. Oregon at Sun Devil Stadium/Frank Kush Field. "

Monday, August 25, 2008

ESPN Pre-Season Previews & More

-- ESPN Gameday analyst Kirk Herbstreit has published his annual Herbie Awards, his choices for the top players, coaches, teams, and fans in college football this season. It's well documented that Herbstreit doesn't like the Sun Devils, I'd be surprised if he picked us to win against NAU this weekend, but it now appears that Herbstreit has fallen victim of the UA Kool-aid. The evidence:
-- # 6 Best WR -- Mike Thomas, Arizona. Although talented, Thomas is definately not a top six WR. Enough said here.
-- # 2 Best TE -- Rob Gronkowski, Arizona. Gronkowski belongs on the list, perhaps not at #2, but close enough.
-- # 5 Best Old School QB -- Willie "My Head Hurts" Tuitama. Uhhh...huh? Tuitama is not even a top QB in the Pac. I'd rank him probably third or fourth, maybe if I wasn't feeling too well second. Where's the love for Rudy, Kirk? Almost the consensus pick for top QB in the conference, Rudy Carpenter gets looked over by Herbstreit and his Kitty lovin' rankings.
-- # 1 Going Bowling for First Time in A While -- Arizona. One of the ten worst schedules in the nation will get you to a bowl. It's amazing that the UofA hasn't been to a bowl game in 10+ years in an age where all you have to do is go .500.
-- # 3 Movin' On Up -- Arizona. Not a whole lot of places to go but up for them, but ahead of teams like Miami and Ole Miss? I think not.
-- # 4 Coach Who Will Exceed Expectations -- Mike Stoops. There ARE no expectations. I'm not sure a coach on the hotseat can really exeed expectations anyways.
-- Pac-10 Champion Sleeper -- Arizona. I'll wait for you to also nudge your jaw back into place. This one takes the cake my friends. USC is obviously the consensus favorite, but then to call UofA the sleeper? Maybe he misunderstood, after all the UofA has been asleep when it comes to football championships (last winning a title in 1993, it being a co-championship at that, and NEVER representing the Pac-10 in the Rose Bowl, the only school in the Big Ten or Pac Ten not to ever go).

Well those are his UofA picks, now for his ASU ones...
Well those are his ASU picks.

Notable snubs for the Devils would be Rudy Carpenter for Best Old School QB, Kyle Williams for Best Returner, Keegan Herring in the Best Veteran Running Backs, Our D-Line for Sack Masters or Run Stuffers, and Omar Bolden for CB, those to just name a few.

-- ESPN's Games to Watch
Sept. 20: Georgia at Arizona State (8 p.m., ABC)
The Bulldogs make a rare trip west of the Mississippi River -- they haven't played beyond Baton Rouge, La., since 1967. The Sun Devils won 10 games in coach Dennis Erickson's first season, but they'll have to do a better job protecting quarterback Rudy Carpenter against Georgia's defense.

Oct. 11: Arizona State at USC (TBA)
The Sun Devils were no match for the Trojans in 2007, losing 44-24. Arizona State might be USC's best competition in the Pac-10 this season.
And the Week 15 Upset Alert: Arizona over Arizona State.

-- ESPN's Most Intriguing Games of the Season
Dec. 6: Arizona State at Arizona (8 p.m. ET)
After being outrecruited by the Sun Devils, Wildcats coach Mike Stoops suggested Arizona State was turning into a junior college. If Arizona keeps playing football like a JC, Stoops will be looking for a job in 2009.

-- Regarding Sun Devil injuries, Coach Erickson said that WR Chris McGaha is expected to start against NAU this weekend after missing some practice for an injury. On other injuries, Coach Erickson stated that the Devils should have most of their players available, RB Shaun DeWitty is still a question mark however.

-- Looks like Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance will see the majority of the playing time at running back. Jarrell Woods could see action in the short yardage situations because of his size. Coach Erickson has said that true freshman Ryan Bass will also see some action in the NAU game.

-- The Sun Devils will see about eight or nine true freshmen play this season. On defense: Josh Jordan, Clint Floyd, Shelly Lyons, Brandon Magee, and Lawrence Guy. Offensively look for Zach Schlink, Ryan Bass, and Gerell Robinson.

-- No News is Not Good News in regards to Oregon's projected starting quarterback Nate Costa. You figured with all of the sealed lips around Oregon's fall practices over the weekend that the injury to Costa was more than a mere stinger and according to reports that were published Monday, the Ducks QB will be out a minimum 8-10 weeks after reinjuring his surgically repaired knee five days ago. Justin Roper will start the season opener against Washington on Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Back-up QBs will be Jeremiah Masoli, a transfer from City College of San Francisco (JUCO National Champion) and true freshman Chris Harper. Roper filled in for Dennis Dixon last season after Dixon was lost due to an injury suffered during the Arizona State game. Roper led the Ducks to a 56-21 Sun Bowl win over South Florida.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Some News & Notes

Notes on the Sun Devils:

According to the East Valley Tribune here is a list of freshmen who likely will play: wide receiver Gerell Robinson, running back Ryan Bass, guard Zach Schlink, defensive end Lawrence Guy, linebackers Shelly Lyons and Brandon Magee, cornerback Josh Jordan, safety Clint Floyd.

Arizona State is ranked 16th in the Football Writers Association of America poll. USC is in first in the preseason poll, Georgia is three points behind the Trojans in second. Both the Trojans and the Bulldogs have five first place votes each.

The Pac-10 has released its first official release. They had this to say about ASU: Dennis Erickson begins his 20th year as a college head coach. His 158 career victories places him 10th among currently active head coaches. . . . Sun Devils were Pac-10 co-champs with USC last year at 7-2 in league, 10-3 overall. . . . QB Rudy Carpenter has started 31 consecutive games, posting a 21-10 record in those starts. . . . PK Thomas Weber won the Lou Groza Award by connecting on 24 of 25 field goal attempts last year. Pretty good for a freshman. . . . ASU allowed only 12 fourth-quarter points in 12 regular season games last year and returns seven starters on defense.

Some notes from the around the Pac-10:

-- California has named sophomore Kevin Riley as their starting quarterback over senior Nate Longshore. Riley is more the fan favorite, as Longshore has disappointed over the years, yet it is a somewhat surprising move to bench the senior and experienced quarterback. You can expect to see them both in action during the Bears opener versus Michigan State.

-- Oregon QB Nate Costa is the latest Pac-10 quarterback to get bit by the injury bug. Costa was the frontrunner for the starting job when he injured his knee. Reports say it was a non-contact injury to his already-surgically repaired left knee. The backup, Justin Roper, has been coming on strong lately so don't be surprised to see Roper start their season opener versus Washington. More will be known about Costa's knee injury on Monday when the team's orthopedic surgeon returns to town.

-- USC quarterback Mark Sanchez has returned from his earlier injury and appears to be ready to go for the Trojans opener against Virginia. Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain will be competing for the back-up job. Running back CJ Gable is nursing ankle and hip injuries he suffered on Tuesday. The injuries may knock him out for a couple of weeks, or he may be ready to go next weekend. No one knows with USC and their "crying wolf" injury reports.

-- Washington QB Jake Locker returned to practice this week and will be good to go when the Huskies take on Oregon in both team's season opener.
All signs point to Tavita Pritchard starting for Stanford against Oregon State next Thursday night.

-- UCLA named Kevin Craft as their starting quarterback. The Bruins open against Tennessee in game one of their brutal schedule. Chris Forcier will fill the back-up role.

And finally on a very exciting note, the Sun Devils are expecting to eclipse 50,000 season ticket sales, the most in at least two decades. That number of season ticket holders would almost fill up Arizona's Stadium (55,000).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Favorite Time of the Year

With football season a little more than two weeks away, preparations are under way on Sun Devil Stadium in order to ready it for the August 30th season opener versus Northern Arizona. Last season's Pac-10 Championship and Holiday Bowl appearance were added to the stadium last week, the grass is getting trimmed, and the goalposts are getting a brand new coat of neon yellow paint. One of the neater projects that is underway to prepare the stadium goes along with celebrating its' 50th anniversary, as ASU legends will greet fans as they enter through the south turnstiles. Images of Frank Kush, Jake Plummer, Danny White, and Pat Tillman (just to name a few) will adourn the large wind whirly-things, replacing last year's images of current football players and Coach Erickson. This will be one of the ways the university will celebrate the Golden Anniversary of Sun Devil Stadium.

My proposal to help celebrate the season and the tradition of Sun Devil football would be to replicate previous field and endzone designs. For example, one game would be a design from say the 10-1 Border Conference champions from 1959. Another game would feature a neat endzone design from the 1960s, etc, etc. Looking through the old Sun Devil football pictures, one can see the many unique endzone designs that ASU used throughout the 50 year time period. Some being rather plain but others being creative and cool, like one design which features a script-like ASU, placed in between two older Sparky logos, where Sparky is positioned inside a gold sun. For the '80s and '90s you could pick endzone designs that honor the Rose Bowl years. For the '70s there is the endzone made famous from "The Catch", a script ASU filled in with the American flag (similar to what Major League Baseball did this year for the Fourth). I believe this would be a fantastic way to celebrate the heritage and tradition of Sun Devil Stadium and Arizona State football and would be a neat "old-school" crowd pleaser.

Later I will add my selections for what endzones I think would be neat to replicate this season.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ASU-Georgia Tickets

According to the Arizona Republic:

The ASU ticket office has announced that single-game tickets for the ASU-Georgia game on Sept. 20 are sold out, and that the only seats left for the Georgia game - about 3,000 of them - are available on a season-ticket basis.

Season tickets are sold out in the upper level endzone sections. Those are areas for which many Georgia fans were purchasing season ticket packages for $99 throughout the summer in anticipation that the single-game seats would not be available.

Single-game tickets for the Georgia game were to be priced at $65.

If any remaining season tickets are not sold by Sept. 9, ASU will then make those tickets available on a single-game basis.

Single game tickets for the rest of the 2008 ASU football schedule go on sale Thursday morning at 9 a.m. In addition, fans can buy tickets to four of ASU's road games: at California (Oct. 4), at Oregon State (Nov. 1), at Washington (Nov. 8) and at Arizona (Dec. 6).

News & Notes from Opponents

A Couple Notes from around the Pac-10:

Arizona ticket sales are down 13.7% from last year, as currently they have only sold about 22,000 season tickets. Last year the Wildcats averaged 52,000 fans with about 25,000 of them being season ticket holders. On the flip side, ASU has sold more season tickets already than they did last season, and that's without about 5,000 Student Tickets that have yet to be sold. The Sun Devils will most likely end up with a whopping 50,000 season ticket holders this season (out of 71,706 seats at Sun Devil Stadium), the 50,000 season tickets holders would almost fill the capacity of Arizona's Stadium. The Sun Devils are on pace to sell their most season tickets in 15 years.

ASU is keeping mostly injury free (keep those fingers crossed!). The only injury of concern right now is really just WR Nate Kimbrough's, and the good news there is he won't have to have surgery on a fractured bone under his eye. Originally expected to miss up to a month because of the freak weighlifting accident, Kimbrough is expected to start practicing this week. A couple of other minor Sun Devil injuries are WR's McGaha (foot), Williams (concussion), and Jones (concussion). Tailbacks Herring (Shoulder) and DeWitty (Hamstring) and center Altieri (concussion). All of the injuries are minor and only kept the players out of a scrimmage on Tuesday.

USC QB Mark Sanchez is recovering nicely from his dislocated kneecap. The Trojan QB is on schedule to return prior to the team's season opener at Virginia.

Some News from up North:

With a full week of practices under their belt, the Lumberjacks' coaching staff is pleased with the progress and play. Head Coach Souers is especially pleased with the play of the offensive line and the linebacker unit. Safety Adam Wright and Corner Josh Luck have also stood out during practices. There have been no reported injuries from the 'Jacks camp that would keep anyone out from the opener against ASU.

NAU has one former Sun Devil on their roster, DB Brian Hunter.

The Lumberjacks are organizing a bus for fans to travel down to the Valley for the August 30th game against ASU. Hopefully they plan on some other form of entertainment, unless they are coming for the fireworks show!

Some News from the Deep South:

Georgia's practice notes are starting to read like a M*A*S*H Prison Report, with a boatload of Bulldog players either injured or suspended. The latest Georgia player to go out was their best offensive lineman, All-Conference LT Trinton Sturdivant, he suffered an injury to his left knee which will recquire reconstructive surgery and will keep him out for the season. Over in the Law & Order Department and the Bulldogs legal troubles, they have had eight players arrested during the offseason, six of which have been suspended or dismissed from the team.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Updated Pac-10 Predictions

Well after looking over the schedules and re-doing my math a hundred times at least, I am now ready to back up my rankings of the Pac-10 teams. Shockingly, there are some changes! The reason I was somewhat nervous about my initial rankings was mainly because I had Arizona ranked fourth, when in my heart and gut I have them finishing lower than that. But here's a schedule breakdown with my picks. Again, I'm terrible with decision making, so picking each game has been quite a chore.

1) USC -- 11-1 Overall; 9-0 Pac-10
Wins -- @ Virginia, @ Oregon St, Oregon, ASU, @ Wazzu, @ Arizona, Washington, Cal, @ Stanford, Notre Dame, @ UCLA
Losses -- Ohio State

2) Arizona State -- 10-2; 8-1
Wins -- NAU, Stanford, UNLV, @ Cal, Oregon, @ Oregon St, @ Washington, Wazzu, UCLA, @ Arizona
Losses -- Georgia, @ USC

3) California -- 8-4; 5-4
Wins -- Michigan St, @ Wazzu, @ Maryland, Colo St, UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, Washington
Losses -- ASU, @ Arizona, @ USC, @ Oregon State

4) Oregon -- 8-4; 5-4
Wins -- Washington, Utah St, @ Purdue, Boise St, @ Wazzu, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona
Losses -- @ USC, @ ASU, @ Cal, @ Oregon State

5) Arizona -- 6-6; 4-5
Wins -- Idaho, Toledo, @ UCLA, Washington, Cal, Oregon State
Losses -- @ NM, @ Stanford, USC, @ Wazzu, @ Oregon, ASU

6) UCLA -- 4-8; 4-5
Wins -- Wazzu, Stanford, Oregon State, @ Washington
Losses -- Tennessee, @ BYU, Arizona, Fresno State, @ Oregon, @ Cal, @ ASU, USC

7) Oregon State -- 5-7; 4-5
Wins -- @ Stanford, Hawaii, Wazzu, Cal, Oregon
Losses -- @ Penn St, USC, @ Utah, @ Wazzu, ASU, @ UCLA, @ Arizona

8) Washington -- 4-8; 3-6
Wins -- Stanford, Oregon St, Notre Dame, @ Wazzu
Losses -- @ Oregon, BYU, Oklahoma, @ Arizona, @ USC, ASU, UCLA, @ Cal

9) Stanford -- 3-9; 2-7
Wins -- San Jose St, Arizona, Washington State
Losses -- Oregon St, @ ASU, @ TCU, @ Washington, @ Notre Dame, @ UCLA, @ Oregon, USC, @ Cal

10) Washington State -- 4-8; 1-8
Wins -- @ Baylor, Portland State, Arizona, @ Hawaii
Losses -- Oklahoma St, Cal, Oregon, @ UCLA, @ Oregon St, USC, @ Stanford, @ ASU, Washington

So looking at this breakdown, the teams that jump out at me as being out of place are: UCLA at sixth and Oregon State at seventh. I feel that the Beavers could a decent season and finish bowl eligible (six wins) and that UCLA will have a problem finishing 4-5 in the Pac. Also, I could see Stanford winning more than two games in the conference this season and Oregon finishing ahead of Cal for third place.

Bad Week for Pac-10 Quarterbacks

This was a rough week for quarterbacks in the Pac. UCLA QB Ben Olson broke a bone in his foot at practice on Saturday during a non-contact drill and will be out for at least eight weeks. Olson suffered the same injury in the spring. Olson missed most of last season with an injury, but last year's late-season starter is out for the season with an injury. UCLA's schedule is already probably the most difficult in the Pac-10, the rash of injuries at quarterback doesn't help matters for the Bruins.

USC's Mark Sanchez was injured during Friday's practice when he went down with a dislocated kneecap. Sanchez is expecting to be back in time for the season opener against Virginia, but with so much talent behind him at SC (namely Mitch Mustain, a transfer QB from Arkansas who went 8-0 as a Razorback) Sanchez might find himself second on the depth chart when he gets back.

The other Pac-10 starter to go down this week was Washington QB Jake Locker. Locker went out with a strained hamstring on Friday, but isn't expected to miss much time. The Huskies chances are riding on Locker this season, as he is undoubtedly Washington's most talented player and their leader.

With quarterbacks falling left and right in the Pac-10, an impressive feat for Sun Devils' QB Rudy Carpenter is his 31 consecutive starts. Especially because of the injuries he has sustained over the past few seasons.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pac-10 Picks

Well here are my preliminary rankings of the Pac-10 teams. I'm sure it will change multiple times between now and the season opener, as it's already changed multiple times between my initial ranking and posting it. Teams 4-7 could finish in any order and the same goes for teams 8-10. But here goes nothing:

1. USC
2. Arizona St
3. Oregon
4. Arizona
5. California
6. Oregon State
8. Washington
9. Stanford
10. Washington St

I'll break down why I have them picked in this order later and will also include my Top Pac-10 Games of the Year. I'll also probably be re-arranging the order :P

Monday, August 4, 2008

Monday Notes

Devils lose Offensive and Defensive Linemen

Arizona State offensive tackle Richard Tuitu'u, who finished spring practices No. 1 on the depth chart, has quit the team. The Sun Devils offensive line lost three starters from a unit that gave up 55 sacks a year ago, and the position is a huge concern as preseason practices start Monday. Tuitu'u was the only returning lineman with experience at tackle. He played in 19 games in two seasons, with one start.
Redshirt freshman Adam Tello, listed at 283 pounds, now moves up on the depth chart. Coach Dennis Erickson called Tello a good pass blocker.
Arizona State could use some help on the defensive line, but it's probably not going to come from talented but troubled Eugene Germany. Germany hasn't sufficiently fulfilled requirements set forth by coach Dennis Erickson and the school to join the team, according to an athletic department official. Germany signed with USC in 2004 out of Pomona (Calif.) High School but ended up at Michigan, where he played in eight games as a redshirt freshman in 2006. When things went sour there, he bolted for Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif., where he had 9.5 sacks last season. He joined the Sun Devils recruiting class in the winter, but his status has been in question since the spring.

McGaha was named one of the Pac-10's six current "clutch" performers. Ted Miller of ESPN had this to say about the Devils' receiver.
McGaha is the guy QB Rudy Carpenter turns to when he needs to move the chains. We know this because 48 of McGaha's 61 receptions in 2007 went for first downs. That's a conversion rate of 79 percent.

Jake Plummer was one of the Pac-10's clutch performers of all time, making the list of ten, Jake "The Snake" was the swashbuckling face of the 1996 Sun Devils. He led them to a double-overtime victory over USC and accounted for three TDs in the final eight minutes in a comeback win over UCLA. He nearly led ASU to a perfect season, falling victim to a late Ohio State TD in the Rose Bowl.

In other college football news, Georgia has suspended its fifth player for the first game of the season. The Bulldogs have encountered a plethora of off-season problems with players.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Preseason Coaches Poll

ASU's much anticipated opponent, Georgia, garnered the #1 ranking in the preseason coaches poll. The Devils came in at #16, eight points out of 15th. USC is #2 and Oregon is #20. Oregon State, California, UCLA, and Arizona each received votes (or in Arizona's case..vote.)

(Team, Points, First-place votes)

1. Georgia 1,438 (22)
2. USC 1,430 (14)
3. Ohio State 1,392 (14)
4. Oklahoma 1,329 (3)
5. Florida 1,293 (5)
6. LSU 1,163 (3)
7. Missouri 1,143
8. West Virginia 1,008
9. Clemson 999
10. Texas 979
11. Auburn 888
12. Wisconsin 747
13. Kansas 714
14. Texas Tech 644
15. Virginia Tech 568
16. ASU 560
17. BYU 547
18. Tennessee 506
19. Illinois 422
20. Oregon 399
21. South Florida 350
22. Penn State 313
23. Wake Forest 203
24. Michigan 112
25. Fresno State 91

Others receiving votes: Alabama 83; South Carolina 64; Utah 60; Florida State 53; Rutgers 53; Boston College 47; California 1; Pittsburgh 34; Boise State 25; Oregon State 23; Nebraska 17; Cincinnati 13; Virginia 12; Connecticut 9; Michigan State 9; Mississippi State 6; Kentucky 5; Notre Dame 5; TCU 5; Maryland 4; North Carolina 3; Texas A&M 3; UCLA 3; Central Florida 2; Georgia Tech 2; Louisville 2; Arizona 1; Colorado 1; Oklahoma State 1; Tulsa 1.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Preseason News & Notes

Some news and notes regarding ASU football from around the country:

--In the annual preseason conference media day, the Sun Devils were picked 2nd in the Pac-10, behind USC. ASU has never been picked to win the Pac-10, but have been conference champions three times (1986, 1996, 2007).

--The ASU-Georgia game on September 20th has been named #6 on the Must-See Games of 2008 by Bruce Feldman on ESPN.com.

"The mighty Dawgs head west (way west) for the first time in a very long time to meet an Arizona State squad which could be dangerous if it learned how to protect the passer. The last time UGA met a touted team with a similar rep, the Dawgs hammered Colt Brennan's squad and left anyone who talked Hawaii up looking foolish. A win here would be huge for the Pac-10's rep against the vaunted SEC."

--ESPN's Ted Miller ranked the Pac-10's five most bitter rivalries, with ASU-UofA ranking second behind USC-UCLA. He even went as far as to call it perhaps the nation's most underrated rivalry.

"Perhaps the nation's most underrated rivalry, as I found out first hand. There's a rational basis for the extreme dislike -- UA tried to stop ASU from becoming an accredited university in the 1950s -- but it's festered into the sort of joyful, spiteful irrationality that fuels, say, Auburn-Alabama."

--Miller also ranked Rudy Carpenter as the Pac-10's best Quarterback.

"He enters his senior season with 65 touchdowns and 8,000 yards passing, meaning he's going to dust such luminaries, such as Matt Leinart, Jake Plummer, John Elway and Carson Palmer in the Pac-10 record book. Moreover, the Sun Devils figure to finish in the top-third in the conference."

--And a ranking of the Pac-10's most hated teams put the Sun Devils as the third most hated team in the Pac-10. Arizona ranked 8th. People dislike a winner way more than those teams they feel sorry for.

"This is a recent hate elevation. The Sun Devils used to be middle-of-the-pack for all teams other than Arizona. But now the program, long hailed a sleeping giant, appears to be waking up with Dennis Erickson at the helm. That breeds jealousy. And lots of folks are quick to insist that ASU is easier to get into academically than most Pac-10 schools."

About Arizona they said this: "The only team that really hates Arizona is Arizona State, but that hate is pretty strong and keeps the Wildcats registering on the Hate Meter. And, if the program's turnaround... any second... any second... finally arrives, expect a more confident Mike Stoops to find ways to annoy fans from schools outside the Grand Canyon State."

--The Arizona Republic reported on how the Georgia fans are gearing up for the big game. The last time the Bulldogs came this far west was in 1960 in a 10-3 loss at Southern Cal. Georgia easily sold it's 7,000+ ticket allotment and many fans are purchasing ASU season tickets just to come for that one game. In all estimates are ranging anywhere from 10,000 - 25,000 Bulldog fans will make the trip to the House of Heat. It should be an intense atmosphere that will be reminiscent of the ASU-Nebraska game in 1996, where Nebraska fans were loud and made up almost half of the home crowd.

--A new rule change for this season regarding the use of instant replay should be a positive addition. Now, if there is a fumble that is recovered by the defense but the official whistles the play dead (i.e. Cal vs. ASU last season), the play can be reviewed to determine whether or not it was a fumble and which team gets possession. Doug Rhoads, college football officials' coordinator for 20+ schools explained it as, "In the past, if an official ruled a player's knee was down and then the ball came loose, that was not a fumble. When his knee was down, the play was over. Once he's down, there's no review. Now, regardless of what the official rules, if there is an immediate recovery, they can review it to make sure possession is rewarded to the right team. Replay won't happen when there's a huge cluster and officials are trying to figure out who has the ball under the pile. Only the officials can determine that. But if there's a split second when the ball comes loose, another player recovers it and the play is dead, they can review it and see whether his knee was down or not."

Another rule change is that all facemask penalties will be of the 15 yard variety and also when a play ends up out of bounds, instead of the clock stopping until the next snap it will stop only for the official to place the ball on the hashmark and then will start again.

--Sports Illustrated ranked ASU the #1 Athletic Program in the nation. Stanford finished 2nd and UCLA 3rd. USC was 7th and Arizona was 22nd, seventh out of Pac teams.