2009 Arizona State Sun Devils Football Preview
2008 Record: (5-7, 4-5)
2008 Bowl: none
Coach: Dennis Erickson (15-9 at Arizona, 163-75-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Rich Olson
Defensive Coordinator: Craig Bray
Other Key Returnees: C Thomas Altieri, CB Omar Bolden, CB Terell Carr, G Garth Gerhart, LB Travis Goethel, DT Lawrence Guy, OT Jon Hargis, OT Shawn Lauvao, WR Kerry Taylor, K/P Thomas Weber
Key Losses: QB Rudy Carpenter, S Rodney Cox, G Paul Fanaika, WR Michael Jones, S Troy Nolan, TE Andrew Pettes, DT David Smith, DE Luis Vasquez, LB Morris Wooten
Arizona State had arguably the most disappointing season of any college football team in 2008. The Sun Devils were the top contender to unseat USC from the top of the Pac-10 pecking order and instead Coach Dennis Erickson’s squad failed to even reach a bowl game and had a losing record in conference play.
Arizona State's Strengths:
Much of the blame for last year’s debacle can be placed on the offense and any success the team finds this time around will be because of the defense. There is talent all over that side of the ball and none may be better than Dexter Davis. The senior defensive end tallied 11.0 sacks and 15.0 tackles-for-loss last season and is expected to have a huge final season in Tempe. With Lawrence Guy also returning to the defensive line, the Sun Devils front four should be one of the best in the conference. The group in the middle is equally talented with the return of linebackers Mike Nixon and Travis Goethel, who ranked first and third, respectively, on the team in tackles. The secondary will miss free safety Troy Nolan, but corners Omar Bolden and Terrell Carr are now both experienced upperclassmen.
Arizona State's Weaknesses:
Somehow Arizona State ranked 100th in the nation in total offense. That was on a team with a four year starting quarterback in Rudy Carpenter, a talented tailback in Keegan Herring and a superb playmaker in Michael Jones. Those three are now gone and it still seems the offense can only be better after a miserable 2008 campaign. However, at least on paper, the offense could be worse. Dimitri Nance is a capable rusher and Danny Sullivan is certainly a capable quarterback, but if Carpenter and Herring could not get the job done, why should anyone expect more from Nance and Sullivan? The good news is that Sullivan, a strong armed senior, will have some playmakers down field. Chris McGaha can pick up where Jones left off and Kerry Taylor showed plenty of promise as a sophomore last season.
The Bottom Line for the Sun Devils:
What Sullivan will have that Carpenter did not is an experienced offensive line. Four starters are back, led by tackle Shawn Lauvao. If the line can give Sullivan time and create holes for Nance and fellow back Shaun DeWitty, then the offense will not rank 100th in the nation once again. But that might be putting a little too much emphasis on experience. This is an offensive line that gave up nearly three sacks per game during the 2008 campaign and paved the way for an absolutely awful ground game.
By Joel Welser
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