Posted on: July 26, 2011 11:51 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Arizona State was selected by the media to finish second place in the new Pac-12 South, right behind USC. If final standings shake out that way, the Sun Devils would find themselves in the Pac-12 title game due to USC's sanctions. Head coach Dennis Erickson was asked on Tuesday if they would have any problem taking that bid.
"I don't care," Erickson joked. "Lot of things in life you take anyway you can get it, you know. But the playoff is really fun. You can have a bad game, come back, and get into that championship game, which is what it's all about, to go to the Rose Bowl. But to answer your question, like I said, I don't care. I'll take it anyway we can get it."
Here are some other highlights from Arizona State's time with the media on Tuesday:
- Erickson is very happy with his defense heading into the fall. Says the unit is two-deep at every position, and will likely be the best part of the team. He noted the loss of defensive back Omar Bolden setting them back a bit, and identified it as one place to improve.
- On the offensive line Arizona State will return "7 or 8" offensive linemen with game experience, not to mention all five starters. The line should help 6-foot-8 quarterback Brock Osweiler, who also drew praise from Erickson for his work in the offseason.
- There is no timetable for a return for running back Deantre Lewis. After suffering a gunshot wound in the back of the leg, Erickson insisted that his return is up in the air. The wound hurt his hamstring worse than many people think, and is obviously still dealing with the emotional issues of being shot. Erickson seemed to hint that he would either sit out the first 3 or 4 games or redshirt the entire season.
Posted on: April 6, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 1:12 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Sometimes spring practice brings bad news: a broken ankle, an academic suspension, a player or two who can't seem to get on track.
And sometimes, unfortunately, the news goes beyond "bad." That's the kind of news Arizona State's Dennis Erickson was forced to announce yesterday, confirming that two senior Sun Devil starters' seasons are in jeopardy after tearing their ACLs in spring camp:
Even details like "All-Pac-10" and "481 receiving yards" don't entirely do justice to how devastating the losses of Bolden and Simpson are. Without Bolden, the Sun Devils not only won't start one of the nation's best cover corners, they'll likely be forced to replace him with untested redshirt freshman Devan Spann. (The Sun Devils now have only two scholarship corners available this spring.) Simpson, meanwhile, was easily ASU's biggest deep threat a year ago, the only Sun Devil wideout with more than three receptions to average better than 13.5 yards a reception.
Thanks to USC's postseason ban, the Sun Devils have been the tentative offseason favorite to claim the inaugural Pac-12 South divisional title. But with every further blow in what's been a tumultuous offseason -- be it the concussion-forced departure of Steven Threet, an uninspiring recruiting class, players arrested or shot -- ASU's favorite role has been more and more tentative, and now the loss of Bolden and Simpson is the biggest blow of all.
Meaning that unless Brock Osweiler and Vontaze Burfict live up to every inch of their hype and then some, it may finally be time for the prognosticators to look elsewhere.
Posted on: March 24, 2011 7:39 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2011 7:46 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Arizona State, who started spring practice on Tuesday.
Spring Practice Question: Are Brock Osweiler and Vontaze Burfict ready to step up and lead the Sun Devils?
Oh what a difference a year makes.
Coming out of spring practice a year ago, Arizona State was picked to finish in the bottom half of the Pac-10 and faced issues at just about every position group. Entering the spring this year, the Sun Devils are now considered the favorite to win a Pac-12 South title thanks to 18 returning starters from last year's squad that played top ten teams Oregon, Stanford and Wisconsin tough.
"I thought last year we were really close, now I feel like we're here," head coach Dennis Erickson said at his pre-spring press conference. "Now we've got to do it on the field. Numbers wise, even though we've got a lot of seniors, we do have a lot of young guys playing. We're finally at a place, where if we have the success we think we're going to have next year, that we can plug guys in the year after that and the year after that and the year after that."
One starter returning is junior quarterback Brock Osweiler but it might be a bit of a stretch to actually call him a returning starter. Osweiler played in just five games last season but came on strong in two starts at the end of the year, a blow out of UCLA and an upset win at archrival Arizona.
"Yes, without a question, he is the guy," Erickson said. "Now who is two...that's kind of where we are going into spring football."
In addition to refining the 6-foot-7 quarterback's game this spring, finding a backup (important considering the revolving door at the position recently) is an unexpected challenge for Erickson and staff. Former starter Steven Threet had to retire due to concussions and Samson Szakacsy left the team to pursue other interests. Despite the vacancy at backup quarterback, Erickson still feels as though he has a talented group of quarterbacks with Osweiler, redshirt freshman Taylor Kelly and early enrollee Michael Bercovici.
"It's the best I've ever been around in college, or any place I have ever been, I've never had it that deep," Erickson said "Three of them are unproven, of course. But physical talent...from what you can see is pretty amazing."
Quite a statement for the fifth-year head coach to make considering some of his stops in college and the NFL, such as with the Miami Hurricanes and the San Francisco 49ers. All three quarterbacks have strong arms and can throw it anywhere on the field but Osweiler's maturity and experience have him firmly planted atop the depth chart. The lack of a quarterback battle has allowed him to focus less on beating another player and more on just being himself.
"It's a lot different," Osweiler told the Arizona Republic. "I'm a lot more comfortable. I've been in the offense for a year, and it's a little different. There's not exactly a quarterback competition, so it kind of takes that weight off you and just allows you to play."
Fans in Tempe are hoping that he can duplicate his numbers from the games against UCLA and Arizona, where he threw five touchdowns and no picks in helping the team reach the .500 mark on the year. With the expectation that Osweiler can successfully pilot the offense, Arizona State is undergoing a few minor tweaks this spring in order to help him get the ball in the hands of playmakers like running back Cameron Marshall.
"I think we'll add a few things. It might even be simpler than it's been," Erickson said. "I think one thing we can do right now is line up and run the football without having to trick people. I don't know if that's more complex or simpler. But we're not going to change a lot of things. I think that happens sometimes when you look at this offense is you have success and start putting too much in and they don't become as good."
On the other side of the ball, personal foul machine Vontaze Burfict is expected to - and we're not joking - take on a leadership role as an upperclassman this year. Though he has typically been known for a lack of self control on the field, the recent offseason program has given the talented middle linebacker a chance to help his team instead of hurt it.
"It's amazing his change in the last three months. Now, he doesn't miss workouts, ever," Erickson said. "He's a leader out there doing all sorts of stuff. He's in the best shape I've ever seen him in. He's a big time leader out there.
"The light just came on. I think the light came on at the end of last year. I think from the Stanford game on. I think having some success and winning, and saying maybe that gray-haired (coach) knows a little bit about what's going on."
"I'm trying to get us to a national championship," Burfict said, "and to do that, I feel like I need to become more of a leader."
In addition to leading by example, Burfict will have to get used to playing behind two new defensive tackles following the departure of Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola. Oft-injured tackle Corey Adams is talented but needs to stay on the field and Will Sutton will return after being academically ineligible last season. Despite a few new parts on defense, all eyes this spring will be on how the new and improved Burfict plays.
"I don't know why he had that chip on his shoulder. Maybe it was immaturity," Erickson said. "But it's totally different now."
The head coach hopes spring practice is totally different from years past as well. In addition to seeing Osweiler and Burfict step up their roles on the team, Erickson understands how much this spring means for the future of the program.
"I mean this is my fifth year. I have been going at this for four years," he said. "For me, I think it's a very important season for this program, no question about it."
If the Sun Devils are going to take the leap this upcoming spring and lay the foundation for a run, they'll have to hope Osweiler and Burfict take the necessary leap as leaders. The talk is certainly encouraging and there's no doubt that Osweiler is top dog on offense and Burfict has a better head on his shoulders on defense. But if Arizona State wants to see success in the fall, the next few weeks of spring practice are all about seeing if the two can start walking the walk and not mearly talking the talk.
Tags: Arizona, Arizona State, Brock Osweiler, Cameron Marshall, Corey Adams, Dennis Erickson, Lawrence Guy, Michael Berovici, NFL, Oregon, Pac-10, Pac-12, Sala Faiahola, Samson Szakacsy, Spring Practice, Spring Practice Primer, Stanford, Steven Threet, Taylor Kelly, UCLA, Vontaze Burfict, Will Sutton, Wisconsin
Posted on: February 23, 2011 8:42 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The last time we heard from Arizona State quarterback Steven Threet, he was being removed from last season's UCLA game after a concussion. It was his second in five games, having suffered one earlier against California. While the first concussion evidently wasn't serious -- Threet returned to action the very next week against Washington State and had his best game of the season, going 26-32 for 300 yards and three TDs -- the cumulative effects of the two concussions appear to be much more severe.
The Arizona Republic reported today that Threet is still suffering post-concussion symptoms after that UCLA injury, and summarily has decided to leave the sport of football for good. Threet's symptoms include headaches and trouble sleeping; that the symptoms persist nearly three full months after the concussion means football must be off the table for Threet going forward.
"It's extremely hard," Threet told the Arizona Republic. "Obviously, this is a game I love. I love the guys that I've played with. Throughout my career I've had to make a lot of tough decisions, but this has been the toughest I've made so far."
Brock Osweiler, who stepped in for the injured Threet at the end of last season, is the prohibitive favorite to start for ASU in 2011; the only other QB with significant experience on the team was Samson Szakacsy, and he left the team as well last month (though under healthier circumstances).
But going back to Threet, it's obviously terrible to hear that his brain is still injured and we wish him all the best as he tries to recover. Leaving football, difficult as it may have been, was clearly the right decision. What's more, while we don't doubt that Arizona State doctors acted in good faith when they evaluated Threet after his first concussion, it is a fact that ASU is not beholden to Threet's long term well-being. This isn't the NFL, so Threet's not going to collect a pension to help with lingering medical issues (should they occur, and let's hope they don't) once he's gone from the school, or otherwise be helped out by the school. This isn't to suggest ASU is in any way liable for Threet's injuries, of course -- football is brutal and everybody knows that long before their first two-a-day ever begins -- but just a reminder of who's sacrificing for whom in the player-school relationship.