2008 Arizona State Sun Devils Football Preview
Arizona State 2007 Record: (10-3, 7-2 Pac 10)
2007 Bowl: Holiday Bowl vs. Texas (L 34-52)
Arizona State Head Coach: Dennis Erickson (10-3 at Arizona State, 158-68-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Rich Olson
Defensive Coordinator: Craig Bray
Returning Leaders for Arizona State:
Other Key Returnees: CB Omar Bolden, G Paul Fanaika, WR Michael Jones, G Shawn Lauvao, DT David Smith, DE Luis Vasquez, WR Kyle Williams, LB Morris Wooten
Key Losses: S Josh Barrett, LB Robert James, DT Michael Marquardt, TE Brent Miller, OT Julius Orieukwu, C Mike Pollak, OT Brandon Rodd, RB Ryan Torain, CB Justin Tyron
If Arizona State had bigger ambitions than finishing 10-3 with a loss in the Holiday Bowl last season, the offensive line was probably to blame. The unit allowed over four sacks per game and ranked 117 th in the nation in that category. With both tackles and center Mike Pollak gone, the o-line has some big holes to fill. They hope junior college transfer Tom Njunge and converted defensive tackle Jon Hargis can come in and quickly fix the problem.
Arizona State's Strengths:
If the offensive line can improve, the Sun Devils will have an explosive offense led by quarterback Rudy Carpenter. The senior threw for 3,202 yards and 25 touchdowns last season and if he is not sacked 54 times again, Carpenter will have a much bigger year. Receivers Chris McGaha and Michael Jones were Carpenter’s top targets last year and both are back. McGaha will catch more passes, but it is Jones who is the big play receiver and will take more trips to the endzone. In the backfield Coach Dennis Erickson has a nice crop of backs to choose from. Keegan Herring led the way last year rushing for 815 yards, but Dimitri Nance and Shaun DeWitty should earn some carries as well. It is most likely that Herring will be the workhorse with Nance and DeWitty coming in for certain situations.
Arizona State's Weaknesses:
The pass defense was not all bad last year. In fact, giving up 228.9 yards per game through the air is actually pretty good in the Pac-10, but the secondary will have to replace corner Justin Tyron and safety Josh Barrett. Corner Omar Bolden was impressive during his freshman campaign and should be starting once again and he will likely be joined by juniors Terrell Carr or Travis Smith. At the safety spots, Arizona State has a little more experience. Troy Nolan, Rodney Cox and Jeremy Payton are all experienced seniors. If Bolden can improve and become the shutdown corner the team needs, the pass defense could actually be even better in 2008.
The Bottom Line for the Sun Devils:
However, it is the front four of the defense that made the secondary that much more successful. Luckily for ASU, three of four starters return to the line. Ends Dexter Davis and Luis Vasquez did a great job of getting into the opponents backfield and combined for 15 sacks and 25 tackles for loss and tackle David Smith is a fine clog up the middle. If the line can repeat its performance of 2007, the defense will shine. And then it is just the offensive line that will be the difference between a really good season and a great season.
2007 Arizona State Sun Devils Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 137.00 (77th in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 262.62 (34, 3)
Total Offense: 399.62 (56, 5)
Scoring Offense: 32.31 (37, 3)
Rushing Defense: 116.23 (21, 4)
Pass Defense: 228.92 (61, 3)
Total Defense: 345.15 (30, 4)
Scoring Defense: 22.54 (31, 3)
Turnover Margin: .23 (38, 3)
Sacks: 2.23 (49, 9)
Sacks Allowed: 4.23 (117, 10)
By Joel Welser
Check out all of the 2008 college football previews online through College Sports Fans.
Copyright 2005-2009, CollegeSports-fans.com and the Dash Fans Network of Independent College Sports Fan Sites.