Tag:Dennis Erickson
Posted on: April 6, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 1:12 pm
 

Arizona St. loses two starters to ACL tears

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:

Senior cornerback Omar Bolden and senior receiver T.J. Simpson will undergo surgery next week and continue rehab. 

Simpson was the first to be injured followed by Bolden two days later during practice last week. Both players performed big last year and were expected to do the same in the upcoming season. Bolden was an All-Pac-10 selection, and Simpson had 29 catches for 481 yards.

"Those guys have been here ever since I've been here," Erickson said after practice Tuesday. "They battled through a lot of things. They worked their rear ends off and now they get to this point in their career and they get hurt."

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
 

Spring Practice Primer: Arizona State

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."

Spring Practice Primers
In addition to showing NFL scouts he has what it takes to play at the next level between the ears, the 6-foot-3, 240 pound linebacker has set a high bar for the season that goes beyond just a division title.

"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.

Posted on: March 8, 2011 11:59 am
 

Arizona St. RB Lewis back after shooting

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For Arizona State all-purpose running back Deantre Lewis, it would have been nice if his story heading into the Sun Devils' spring practice was how he was going to build on a promising freshman season in which he ran for 539 yards and added an additional 370 yards receiving.

But it's not, because Lewis is the player who made headlines in February for being shot in the buttocks on a trip home to Norco, Calif., one of several less-than-positive developments for the Sun Devils this offseason. There's some good news, though: head coach Dennis Erickson said yesterday that Lewis shouldn't miss any time this spring despite the incident:
"Well, this time yesterday he was out running, doing some stuff. Our trainers feel like he'll be ready for spring football. His health is fine. It's just a mentally scary thing for a guy. He's fortunate, being shot is bad enough, but he knows that it could have been a lot worse."
That's no doubt true, doubly so when spring football will give him the earliest possible opportunity to put the shooting behind him*. And if the Sun Devils are going to build on their buzz-by-default in the fledgling Pac-12 South (even without quarterback Steven Threet), a key cog like Lewis will have to do just that sooner rather than later.

*Yes, the pun is intended. Sorry.

Posted on: January 31, 2011 1:51 pm
 

Arizona St. safety Abreu suspended after arrest

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After a rocky, bowlless 6-6 season, this can't be how Dennis Erickson wanted Arizona State's offseason to begin :
Redshirt freshman safety Ramon Abreu has been suspended indefinitely from the football program at Arizona State following his arrest for felony sexual conduct with a minor, ASUDevils.com has learned.

The alleged incident(s) took place while Abreu was an 18-year-old high school senior at Marcos de Niza in Tempe and involved a 14-year-old freshman at the school.
Per the linked report, Arizona State had not been made aware of the arrest when Abreu signed with the Sun Devils last January (a situation that, if true, could make recruiting relations strained between the program and Abreu's high school). There is no word on when Abreu's suspension might be lifted, if it will be at all.

But where Abreu is concerned, given that his charges constitute a Class 2 felony "punishable by up to five years in prison," he's got much, much bigger problems than football right now. And as for the Sun Devils, it's just one more headache for a program that doesn't need any more than they've already got.

Posted on: November 19, 2010 2:03 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2010 2:03 pm
 

Dennis Erickson will return in 2011

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson has found the seat he's on to be rather hot this season, as Erickson's Sun Devils are 4-6 on the season and 2-5 in Pac-10 play. Last month Erickson received a vote of confidence from ASU AD Lisa Love, and on Friday he got an even bigger indication from Love that he'll be back on the sidelines in 2011.

Love was on 620 KTAR in Arizona on Friday, and she put any rumors of Erickson being fired to rest.

"I still support Dennis Erickson," Love said. "You bet I do. You've got to allow someone to go through the entire process. I'm impressed, by the way, with the process, the recruiting roster, the level of talent and the stable of redshirts we now are able to have. As opposed to the last two years of playing true high school freshman. It's been rewarding to watch. 

"I can tell you it's grueling to climb. It is grueling in a conference that is getting even more challenging to climb. I am absolutely confident, and Dennis Erickson has been since the day he walked in the door, that we will soon be ‘popping' relative to our competitiveness in ASU football. I have faith that we are going exactly in that direction and I have faith in Dennis to get us there."

What about the rumors that Erickson is going to be fired?

"You can put those rumors to rest."

Erickson has been at Arizona State since 2007 when the Sun Devils went 10-3 and lost to Texas in the Holiday Bowl.  Since then, however, the Sun Devils have gone 13-21 and haven't been to a bowl game since.
Posted on: November 14, 2010 1:36 am
Edited on: November 14, 2010 1:37 am
 

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 13)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. Oregon can win ugly, too. To be fair to the Ducks, they weren't exactly dominated in their 15-13 win in Berkeley; they outgained Cal by more than 100 yards, held the Bears to 193 yards total and a miserable 2.5 yards per-pass, and only gave up a second touchdown on a Darron Thomas fumble in the end zone.

But they also scored their only first-half touchdown on a Cliff Harris punt return, averaged a stunningly weak 2.9 yards per-carry, eked out the final two-point margin by virtue of their made two-point try and Cal's failed attempt, and could have easily lost if not for Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio short-circuiting his own 24-yard field goal with a stutter-step procedure penalty and missing the subsequent 29-yard try. Every national title contender has to win games when they're not at their best, but Oregon was so far away from their best Saturday night they'd have to send it a postcard.

In the end, it didn't matter, as behind Thomas and a hobbled LaMichael James the Ducks changed philosophies on the fly to a clock-churning, yards-chewing ground-exclusive outfit that ate up the game's final 9:25 on one drive . That kind of versatility could prove to be the difference between a national champion and a slip-up before Glendale ... even if the Ducks would prefer not to have to put it to use again until there's a crystal football awarded to the victor.

2. Washington State should keep Paul Wulff.
Let's be fair: the Cougars' rehabilitation, even after their 31-14 upset-of-the-Pac-10's year against Oregon State today, is progressing verrrrry ... sloooooooowly. One FBS win in 2008, that one over winless Washington. One in 2009, over SMU in overtime. Until today, none in 2010.

But that hasn't meant it hasn't been progressing at all . After getting totally obliterated on a weekly basis two years ago, the Cougars have been substantially more competitive this season: 42-28 vs. UCLA , 43-23 vs. Oregon, 38-28 vs. Stanford , 20-13 vs. Cal. You could see the game coming where the Cougars put everything together and took down some unsuspecting favorite. And that game came today: quarterback Jeff Tuel had the game of his career, hitting 10-of-15 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown while adding 79 yards in the ground; the rest of a surprisingly productive run game chipped in 142 yards and three touchdowns; and the much-maligned Cougar defense forced three turnovers, hounded Beaver quarterback Ryan Katz into a quiet 12-for-21 performance, and held the Beavers to 261 yards overall. Unexpected as Wazzu's triumph might have been, especially coming in Corvallis, it was no fluke.

So maybe progress has been slow. But it's there. Wulff has Wazzu pointed in the right direction, and after today he deserves at least one more season to see how far in that direction he can go.

(As for the Beavers, well, TCU and Boise would like a refund, please.)

3. Arizona State is the Pac-10's hard-luck team. The Sun Devils have had a couple of games in which they outgained their opponent by wide margins and lost, but today wasn't one of them; visiting Stanford enjoyed a 420-268 yardage advantage. But this is still a team that lost at Wisconsin on a late missed extra point; gave away an excellent shot at a huge upset of Oregon with a flood of turnovers; lost to Oregon State when a late drive ended in an interception; to USC on a late missed field goal. You'd think that eventually Dennis Erickson 's team could buy a break, and when the Devils went up 13-10 late in the third quarter on a Steven Threet touchdown pass, it looked like that break might finally be coming.

But it wasn't: the Cardinal took over on their 15 and went 85 yards to score an Owen Marecic touchdown with just over five minutes remaining. ASU's following drive went nowhere, and Stanford picked up three first downs to ice the game. The Sun Devils have now played the BCS's Nos. 1, 6, and 7 teams and lost by a total of 16 points. But they'll still have to sweep their final two games vs. UCLA and at Arizona just to make a bowl game.

4. This isn't Mike Stoops' breakthrough season, either. Arizona has famously never been to the Rose Bowl, but even if Oregon made clear the Wildcats aren't getting there this year relatively early, Stoops could have still hoped for his first 10-win season and top-20 final ranking -- goals his team looked well on their way to fulfilling after their early-season win over Iowa .

Since then, though, the Wildcats have gone a ho-hum 4-3 with two of those wins over the Washington schools and the latest result a dispiriting 24-21 home loss to USC. The Trojans aren't a bad team by any means, but if the Wildcats want to be taken seriously as Pac-10 contenders, winning home games against their fellow upper-end-of-the-pack rivals (not to mention avoiding getting outrushed 205-51) is a step they'll have to take. Unless Arizona pulls a shocker in Eugene next weekend, eight regular season wins will be the ceiling.

Again.



Posted on: November 9, 2010 10:46 am
Edited on: November 9, 2010 10:47 am
 

Arizona State punter busted for DUI

Posted by Tom Fornelli

When Arizona State was in Los Angeles losing to USC on Saturday night, it was without its punter.  Trevor Hankins, who is third in the nation with a 47.09 yards per punt average, didn't make the trip, but there had been no explanation for his absence from Dennis Erickson or the team.  We have one now, though.

The good news is that Hankins isn't hurt.  The bad news is that he's currently suspended following an arrest for DUI.

Hankins was pulled over at 1:23am on Friday morning in Scottsdale after making two u-turns and drifting into another lane.  When the police pulled him over, Hankins told them that he was on the way to pick up a couple of friends who were too drunk to drive themselves, and that he pulled the U-turns because he thought he left his wallet at a store.

Hankins also admitted that he'd had some drinks earlier in the night, and after subjecting Hankins to some tests, the police then arrested him for "driving while impaired to the slightest degree."  

As for when Hankins will be allowed to return to the team, Dennis Erickson said during his press conference on Monday that he wanted to talk to Hankins before making a decision about this week's game against Stanford.  So unless Hankins shows up to that conversation impaired to the slightest degree, I'd expect him to be back for the Stanford game.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 12:52 pm
 

Dennis Erickson gets dreaded vote of confidence

Posted by Tom Fornelli

In the middle of September, the Arizona State Sun Devils were 2-0 and nearly beat Wisconsin on the road to improve to 3-0, and there was some reason to be optimistic about the team this season.  Since then, however, things have started going downhill in conference play, where the Devils have lost three of the first four, including a 50-17 beatdown from Cal last week.

Which has led some at the school to wonder about the status of head coach Dennis Erickson.   Particularly if he'll be back running the program last season should things continue to head the direction they currently are.  Well, Erickson can either rest easy or start cleaning out his office, because Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love just gave him the dreaded vote of confidence.

"Yeah, I believe he will be (back)," Love told the Arizona Republic. "We have to evaluate at the end of the year, every year, but he's our guy. I've heard a lot of this talk about a hot seat. I think we have a football-wise fan base that are saying and understanding (that ASU's program is on the rise).

"I fully expect Dennis will be our football coach and my days are spent thinking about how to support this football program and get it to where we want it to be, which is a Rose Bowl-caliber program. And I believe we've got a guy who can get us there."

Notice how even in Love's vote of confidence she doesn't say that Erickson will be back, but that she believes he'll be back?  Yeah, I wouldn't take that as a good sign.  In other words, the Sun Devils may want to start winning some games, which is easier said than done.  While Arizona State still has two winnable games at home against Washington State and UCLA this season, they also have trips to USC and Arizona along with a home date against Stanford on the schedule.

Erickson had success in his first season at Arizona State, as the Sun Devils went 10-3 in 2007, but since then they've gone 12-19 are in danger of missing out on a bowl game for the third straight season.
 
 
 
 
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