Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas

Thanks to SI for an early Christmas present to all Sun Devil fans (well, the guys at least!).

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Holiday Bowl announcement

Don't bother watching Fox with baited breath at 6pm AZ time tonight. I looks as though the Devils are headed to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, meaning they have not been selected to a BCS Bowl. UW's failure to hold on to a 21-point lead over Hawaii ultimately doomed ASU.

So it's ASU and Texas in the Holiday Bowl, to be played Thursday, December 27th at 5pm (PST) at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I must admit, when Dennis Erickson was hired I was optimistic, but never thought he would deliver a conference championship in his first season in Tempe. On Saturday night, ASU won a share of its third conference title by beating the Rats 20-17. The catch by Chris McGaha may be one of the best 5 in ASU history -- just a pity that he did not fall into the end zone to score his first TD of the year.

This team will not receive the same accolades in future years as the '86 or '96 championship teams, but they deserve a special place in our hearts. Just remember all those games in recent years where a win meant a trip to Hawaii for a meaningless bowl.

The Save Mike Stoops' Job Fund

Mike Stoops has now lost 3 straight to ASU and has gone four straight years without a bowl game. He continues to weed out Arizona recruits by hyping the future flops, allowing ASU to step in and pick up future success stories.

UA administration has said Stoops will be back for another year. We here at the Save Mike Stoops' Job Fund feel there are few people more important to ASU's success than Mike Stoops and feel it necessary to let the Arizona president and athletic director know ASU fans are in full support of UA keeping Mike Stoops on the payroll. We feel he is due at least a five-year extension.

Please, if you have spare change in your pocket, stick in an envelope and send it to this great cause:

Univ. of No Rose Bowls
1401 E University
Tucson, AZ 85721

Friday, November 23, 2007

Beat the Rats

And so it all comes down to this. Yet again, the game against CGU ("Closing the Gap Univ") will define the season. With a win over the Rats, we can declare this season an unqualified success. Lose, and there will always be a bitter aftertaste to an otherwise good season.

What's impossible to know right now is whether the beating we took from the Trojans will impact this game. Hopefully the 9 day gap will give the kids time to recover.


There is little need for an in-depth analysis of the Thanksgiving day loss to USC. When the team with the superior talent plays its "A" game, it usually wins. As much as people like to criticize the "star" ratings of the recruiting services, USC demonstrated what a team full of 4-star and 5-star recruits looks like. Could ASU have played better or done some things differently to pull of the upset? Sure. But if we played that game 10 times, USC would win at least 8 of the games.

The main thing that this game proved is how insane USC's loss to Stanford was. If they had won that game, they would be right at the top of the National Championship conversation.

I don't see this game as a setback for the program. "Reality check" would be a better term. We can't get to the next level until we get more studs on the roster. What happens next February on signing day will have far more impact on the program than what happened on Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Beauty and the Beast

I cannot recall a more bipolar display by a unit than the performance of the Devils' special teams in the win over UCLA.

First, the good. Thomas Weber was nearly perfect: his long field goal at the end of the first half changed the momentum of the game, and
he pinned the Bruins deep on several punts. Normally I would never say this about a kicker, but Weber deserves serious consideration as ASU's MVP this season.

However, the game was kept close by two lapses: a punt return all the way back to the 1 yards line, and a kickoff return for a TD. Hard to tell from the TV coverage exactly what caused the meltdown -- you can't really blame poor tackling when the returners weren't even getting hit!

Never apologize for winning ugly

Some will be upset with the manner of the win, but a win is a win, especially when it's a conference road game. Take away the two long Bruin kick returns, and the score would not have been close, thanks to another outstanding effort by the D. Let's review: The Devils are 9-1, 3-0 versus teams from California, 3-1 in conference road games, in control of our own destiny for the conference championship. You couldn't really ask for more from a first-year head coach, could you?

We now get 12 days to heal before the Thanksgiving night game versus the Trojans. Ohio State's loss gives Oregon a good chance of finishing in the top 2 of the BCS standings should they win out, giving the Devils a clear path back to the Rose Bowl should we finish 11-1.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Bowl scenarios

Despite the loss at Oregon, the Devils can still have a "special" season. A BCS Bowl is still well within reach. There are multiple scenarios where ASU can make a BCS game, but all require the Devils to win out and finish 11-1.

Scenario 1: Oregon wins out and goes to the BCS National Championship game. If Oregon ends the season ranked #1 or #2 in the BCS standings and plays in the National Championship game, the Rose Bowl will have to select an at-large team to fill its spot (or two, if Ohio State is also in the National Championship game). The Rose Bowl is not required to select a Pac-10 team in this circumstance, but it probably would pick the Devils.

Scenario 2: Oregon wins out and goes to the Rose Bowl. If Oregon ends the season 11-1 but ranked #3 or lower, it will go to the Rose Bowl. ASU and Oregon would be co-champions of the Pac-10, but Oregon would get the Rose Bowl berth based on the head-to-head victory. One of the other BCS Bowls, most likely the Fiesta, would probably pick the Devils.

Scenario 3: Oregon loses another game. This would leave the Devils as undisputed Pac-10 champions and in the Rose Bowl.

Coaching ups and downs

The game at Oregon proved yet again how good this coaching staff is. After giving up 21 points on the Ducks' first three drives, ASU surrendered just 14 points the rest of the game. Meanwhile, I think most fans would agree that the problems on offense were mostly due to execution, not coaching.

However, two incidents cause concern. First, the clock (mis)management at the end of the first half. We should have been able to take two shots to the end zone before attempting a field goal. Second, why didn't we go for two after getting to within 13 points (35-22)? This is one of those "no brainer" decisions -- a two-point conversion would have given us the chance to tie with a field goal and TD, while failing to convert wouldn't have made any difference (12 and 13 points both require two TDs).

I don't want to make a big deal out of this -- I'm still thankful that DE is our coach -- but I hope both issues are addressed in this week's press conferences.

In depth analysis: Oregon just a little better

No need for me to write much this morning, because Paola Boivin's column really sums things up nicely.

The verdict is in, and the national championship is out. All charges of fraud against Arizona State should be dropped.

Elsewhere in the Republic, the headline writers appear to be confused. One article claims that the Sun Devils can't engineer rally while another tells us that Oregon withstands ASU rally. Did we rally or not? In my humble opinion, we really didn't. If I was an Oregon fan, I would have been concerned a couple of times, but I'd never have felt that the game was slipping out of control.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


Nice column on Lisa Love by Bill Dwyre in the LA Times today.

"Arizona State is a dream opportunity, a glorious project," she says.

It's GameDay!

No East coast bias this week -- the eyes of the nation are on us!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Keegan Herring is the man!

For those who missed the feature on last week's GameDay, this puts this week's game into its proper perspective. In the world of college football, it means everything; in the real world, it means nothing.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Is it Saturday yet?

Awesome video work from MizzouSunDevil.

I can't freaking wait for Saturday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A quick tour of the place

Although many of you have probably been visiting Wired Devils for several years, I am sure others are new to the site, so I thought I would take a moment to point out a few key features.

Although I try to blog fairly regularly, the original purpose of Wired Devils was, and remains, to be a source of links to all Sun Devil content on the internet. I started Wired Devils in 1997 because I was finding it difficult to keep all the great sites I was finding organized.

At the top of this page are Sparky's Favorites -- the most used links for Sun Devil fans.

In the top left corner, you will see links to all the other pages on Wired Devils. Main Links takes you to the primary page (including a comprehensive football schedule), and then there are separate pages for Football and Basketball links. Miscellaneous Links is a catch-all page for sites that don't fit into any other category, and the Archives take you to good articles published over the years, many focused on Pat Tillman.

For those of you who surf the web from a handheld device, point your browser to for Wired Devils Mobile Edition. This page features links to mobile-friendly ASU sites.

You can post comments to any article, and if there is a link you think I should add, feel free to send an e-mail to me at

Monday, October 29, 2007

Is this a first?

As far as I can tell, this week's game at Oregon is the first time ASU has played a regular season game where both teams have been ranked in the AP top 10 at the time of the game.

Both Rose Bowl games featured top-10 matchups: ASU was #7 and Michigan #4 in the final regular season poll of 1986 and ASU was #2 and Ohio State #4 in the final regular season poll of 1996. The Fiesta Bowl following the 1975 regular season featured #7 ASU versus #6 Nebraska and there may be other Bowl games that I am overlooking.

However, I cannot recall a regular season game where both ASU and our opponent were in the top 10 at the time of the game. Anyone?

Updated 10/31: As best I can determine, this is the third regular season game where ASU and its opponent have both been in the top 10 at the time of the game. Both previous occasions have featured the Huskies. In 1982 ASU was ranked #3 when we played #7 UW, and in 1986 ASU was #7 and UW #6. Thanks to the AP Poll Archive and James Howell for providing great resources.

Tom Hansen is an idiot, part 573

In yet another example of the conference commissioner's ineptitude, it's now Monday morning and there is still no official announcement as to whether ASU/Oregon will be on ABC at 12:30 PT instead of UCLA/au.

How was this decision not made and announced yesterday? Hansen wakes up Sunday morning as commissioner of the conference with the biggest game of the year to date coming up. He should have been on the phone with all the relevant parties and had an announcement by Noon Sunday.

I'm pretty certain we'll hear today that the change has been made, but as of right now, the game is still scheduled to be televised in Oregon and Arizona only.

Updated 10/30: The game will be televised nationally on ESPN (with local coverage in Arizona, Oregon and SoCal). Announcement was made 39 hours after the end of the ASU/Cal game. Presumably, Hansen slept through Sunday and woke up Monday lunchtime to make a few calls.

Updated 11/3: for those of you interested in such matters, the Register-Guard has a good article about the politics behind these negotiations.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's all gravy from now on

The Cal game was the game we had to win, and we won it in style. What a second half! The key to the game was that despite a poor start, we never trailed by more than 13 points. It's so important to keep games manageable while the chips are down.

And so now many people will point to the Oregon game as the next "biggest game in 10 years" but I disagree. There should be no pressure on us whatsoever. If we go in to Eugene and lose, we will still be in the top-10 and we'll still be able to win a share (at least) of the conference championship.

Oregon is a very good team, but I don't think they are a great team (if they were, they would have beaten Cal at home). I'm sure the Ducks will be favored, probably by 7 or 8 points. The team seems to have embraced the "we get no respect" mantra which, although not really true, is a great way to keep focus.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The biggest game in 10 years

Tonight's game is the biggest ASU has played in since the 1997 season, which saw huge home games versus an unbeaten Washington State (win) and a good-but-not-great au (loss).

As I have posted elsewhere, the WSU game of '97 is the loudest I have ever heard Sun Devil Stadium, especially when Fright Night sacked Ryan Leaf.

Cryin' Leaf Gets Sacked

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Thanks to Devil Grrl for the tip on where to find this great video.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Gaddabout's Grades: Cumulative (7 games)

Apologies for the delay. My new work hasn't allowed me the time it takes to put the numbers together and put a post like this up. I wanted to take opportunity of a brief break in the action to put a cumulative Gaddabout's Grade's together as a measure of ASU's progress this season.

3rd Down Efficiency

2006 ASU offense: 64/129, 37.9% (5th Pac-10, 62nd natoinally)
2007 ASU offense (7 games): 45/106, 42.5% (6th Pac-10, 38th nationally)
2006 ASU defense: 64/174, 36.8% (6th Pac-10, 51st nationally)
2007 ASU defense (7 games): 32/111, 28.8% (2nd Pac-10, 11th nationally)
2007 Pac-10 leader offense: Oregon, 50/99, 50.5%
2007 Pac-10 leader defense: UCLA, 30/112, 26.8%
2007 NCAA leader offense: Missouri, 60/106, 57.1%
2007 NCAA leader defense: Kansas, 29/113, 25.7%

Analysis: It's not hard to see why ASU is 7-0. Moderate improvement in offensive efficiency, strong improvement in defensive efficiency. Defense is about preventing the other team from scoring, but there's a direct relationship between how a defense handles 3rd down and scoring. ASU is 4th in the nation in scoring defense at 15 points a game, more than 10 points better than a year ago. Offensively, ASU is merely taking fewer risks, with more balance in the play calls between run and pass. It's put the offense in more advantageous 3rd down positions where a decent running game can make a difference. ASU ran the ball well last year, but faced too many 3rd and longs because the play calling was heavy on 7-step drops and deep routes on 1st and 2nd downs last year.


2006 ASU: -1, -.8 per game (68th nationally, 7th Pac-10)
2007 ASU (7 games): +6, .86 per game (22nd nationally, 2nd Pac-10)
2007 Pac-10 leader: Cal, +7, 1.0 per game
2007 NCAA leader: Fla. Atlantic, +18, 2.57 per game

Analysis: A positive turnover margin doesn't win games alone, as evidenced by Fla. Atlantic's 4-3 record. But a negative turnover margin is the quickest way to lose games you're not supposed to lose and a general sign of a team that will implode in pressure-packed big games. ASU is doing much better in that category thanks to a ball-hawking defense that has a respectable 12 interceptions. Rudy Carpenter is on pace to throw two less interceptions than last year, a reasonable improvement, although it's difficult to think of an interception that wasn't his fault -- can't think of a tipped pass among them. ASU is doing well holding on to the ball, particularly the running backs, but that is an odd traditional strength for the program since Bruce Snyder first became head coach. ASU has had one nail-biter in 7 contests and it was the game they were upside down in turnovers, although ASU's one interception was a key one -- a game-winning touchdown return by Justin Tryon. It should be noted the +3 in the Oregon State game skews these numbers a bit and ASU is not quite as strong as the cumulative number suggests.


2006 ASU: 7.92/64 yds pg (113th nationally, 10th Pac-10)
2007 ASU (7 games): 7.1 per game/70 yds pg (78th nationally, 4th Pac-10)
2007 Pac-10 leader: Oregon, 5.7/53 yds pg
2007 NCAA leader: Iowa St., 3.5/30 yds pg

Analysis: This is a wacky year for officiating in the Pac-10. The difference between 2006 and 2007 for ASU looks like a slight regression, but the change in clock officiating (a return to clock stoppage after kick team exchanges, for example) has returned about 15 plays per game from the line of scrimmage. Frankly, ASU is more efficient in this category than last year. Quite a bit improved, actually. But it should say something that Oregon is the Pac-10 leader and checks in at 30th nationally. The refs are simply having more influence in our conference than any other. USC, the conference's traditional fewest penalties leader since Pete Carroll arrived, is dead last in the conference and 109th in the nation with a whopping 8.29/74 ypg. average. UCLA is barely ahead of USC with 8.29/65 ypg. Even Cal, traditionally disciplined under Tedford, is picking up almost two more flags a game from the previous year. There's simply no rational way to account for these changes, but ASU's penalty per 85 plays from the LOS is MUCH better than the previous year.

Overall: ASU is much improved, but these are numbers begging to be challenged by the meat of the schedule ahead. It should be noted that Oregon grades out strong in all the efficiency categories and, by those standards, appears to be ASU's most challenging opponent by a long shot. Cal is mediocre in many of these categories and USC and UCLA look entirely capable of shooting themselves in the foot in close games.

College football is an emotional game. It's impossible to measure, say, two fumbles at midfield that produce no points against a late muffed punt return that's easily converted for a score. If a team picks up 7 penalties in the first half and none in the second, which team is more likely to win the game? Personnel changes at QB probably have something to do with the efficiency problems at USC, UCLA, and Cal. Momentum and emotion toys with efficiency stats if you try to place them in a microsystem to predict outcome.

But efficiency stats remain the strongest indicator of performance in three key categories: coaching, player performance consistency, and mental fortitude. Efficiency stats remain the strongest indicator of the big picture, which is which teams are making forward progress to a good season and which teams are likely to falter over 11 or 12 games. ASU definitely looks to have forward progress with at least one potential major roadblock in Eugene ahead.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Great use of a bye week

Nice to see ASU featuring prominently on ESPN's ticker all day Saturday, despite having a bye. Not many verbal commitments are reported nationally, but Jack Elway's bloodlines make him news.

This was big enough news that the AP picked it up for national distribution. Like 99.99% of people who follow recruiting, I have no idea whether Elway will be a star or a third-stringer during his time at ASU, but it's a great sign for the program to have a recruit of his visibility commit.

Kit-Kats losing too many games

Like most Sun Devil fans, I am usually happy to see au lose. However, yesterday's debacle at home versus Stanford means Stoopid will have to be fired at the end of the season. Too bad he couldn't win enough games to stick around for another 2-3 years -- the program is in bad shape right now, but in a few more years he would cause long-term damage.

I can't figure out from this column why offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes way crying after the game: was he sad that he was going to be fired, or upset that he took the job in the first place?

Cal now a "must win" game

For about an hour on October 13, it looked like Cal was going to be rolling into Sun Devil Stadium on October 27 as the #1 team in the country. Two losses later, it's a wounded bear that will be limping in. Dreams of ESPN Gameday being on-site for a top 5 matchup are gone -- Cal will probably still be ranked, but only just, when the polls come out later today.

So this is now a "must win" game for the Devils. There are still three "big" games, but these are now Oregon, UCLA and USC. If anyone can explain how UCLA lost those two horrible out-of-conference games (to Utah and Notre Dame) but is unbeaten in the Pac-10, please add a comment.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

What now?

The schedule this season was always clearly split into three parts: a relatively weak non-conference slate to open, followed by four winnable Pac-10 games. Then the bye week followed by a treacherous closing five games. I think all Sun Devil fans hoped to be 7-0 at this point, but I for one assumed that 5-2 or 6-1 was more realistic.

I hate to look backwards, but it's impossible not to think what would the record be had Dirk Koetter been retained as Head Coach. I know that some fans think we'd be 7-0 regardless, but honestly I think we'd be 4-3 at best. This year's team is simply different from what we've seen for many years. I really don't think we've played a perfect game so far, and there are obviously areas that need improvement, yet we still beat a decent UW team by 24 points.

The question now becomes: what will be a satisfactory finish to this season? Would we be happy with 2 more wins for a 9-3 record, or do we need more?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Apparently, ASU isn't Dennis Erickson's first job

The newspapers in the Northwest appear to have a man-crush on DE. Somewhat understandable since over half of his jobs have been in the Washington/Oregon/Idaho region. In today's Seattle Times, we get a recap of The nine coaching lives of Dennis Erickson.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Gaddabout's Grades delay

A new job has delayed my efforts to put out Gaddabout's Grades. I doubt I will do one for Washington State game, either, but I promise next week I will publish cumulative results that will allow a better comparison of the early Erickson era to the Koetter era of ASU football.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Sun Devil (dog) in need

Meet Jake. He needs a temporary home. His Sun Devil dad is leaving in a week for Iraq, and will be gone for at least a year. Jake's dogsitting arrangements have fallen through at the last moment, so we need to find someone who can look after Jake for an extended period.

Jake says: "Currently, I live in Tempe. I'm good with people and kids, and I love to chase a frisbee, go for walks or to the dog park. Occasionally there are other dogs I don't like, and like all Sun Devil fans, I ABSOLUTELY HATE CATS! Please find me a place to stay."

If you know anyone who can help, send an email to

Here's the post from Cactus Ranch that started this.

Update 10/5: looks like Jake has a place to stay! Thanks to everyone for their interest and kind words.

Monday, October 1, 2007

South End Devil Zone T Shirts

I love to see Sun Devils fans taking some initiative to improve the game day experience for all of us. sundeviljohn is taking orders for some sweet South End Devil Zone T Shirts. Click here for details. Great work, John!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sagarin more impressed than our own fans

While Sun Devil fans continue to pick apart last night's thrashing of Stanford, including insane criticism of Rudy Carpenter here and here, Jeff Sagarin's latest rankings put us at #8 in the nation.

New uniforms made their appearance for the first road game of the season, and much debate ensued. If you had asked me before tonight, I would have told you I preferred gold pants, but I must admit I thought the new maroon pants, with the interlocking AS logo, looked awesome.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Here comes the blitz

Dan Zeiger of the Trib has a good story about the offensive line and their frustrations with pass blocking. There's a passing mention of Oregon State's defensive game plan, which was to force Rudy Carpenter to throw the ball rather than letting ASU get going with the run.

That might seem a little crazy considering Rudy is No. 14 in the nation in passing efficiency and has 11 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions while averaging about 255 yards per game, but that is a reputation ASU earned in 2006. With almost the exact same personnel in 2007, teams are counting on Carpenter and the receivers to log more miscues than big plays. Carpenter's passer rating dropped from an NCAA-leading 175.0 in 2005 to a more average 133.9. The only thing that changed was personnel.

Oregon State saw that on film before rolling ASU in Corvallis: Don't let Rudy and the offense get into a comfortable run/pass rhythm; force Rudy to make plays rather than operating the offense. Last year the receivers were on a different page and when pressed, ASU couldn't deliver. Oregon came to Tempe and held ASU to 33 yards passing.

This year Carpenter and his receivers have been the breakout story as ASU has dug early holes only to explode on teams to the finish, yet the challenge remains the same as defenses intend to force the Devils' passing game to earn their reputation back each game. The good news is defenses have to do this because ASU's running game is strong enough to strike fear into the hearts of opposing coordinators. They have to pay attention to Ryan Torain, Keegan Herring, and that big offensive line. The better news is Carpenter is back to his 2005 form making plays with his feet and finding receivers who are coming back to the QB when things break down. It has helped tremendously that the receiving crew looks like an old-school ASU receiving crew: speed, size, athleticism, attitude.

So what are defenses showing this year? Oregon State came in with a similar game plan as last year on faith that Rudy would show his 2006 colors.

There're two ways to stop a strong running game:

(1) You start with a strong, quick, disciplined defensive line and occasionally blitz from varied angles;

(2) You send numbers into the box.

Oregon State chose Option No. 1 because they are one of two teams ASU will face this year with a strong defensive line. USC would be the other one. They committed six and seven men to the box on first down and forced ASU into converting long second- and third-down opportunities with the passing game. That also meant being able to include some more exotic blitz packages to help the pass rush, but it wasn't always necessary.

ASU essentially starts four guards and a center. It's a good run blocking line, but it is not particularly adept at picking up speed on the edge. There are no Marvel Smiths or Levi Jones in the program to anchor the tackles on either end. The tackle position will change throughout the game depending on what ASU would like to do. If they're going to run the ball Zach Krula will man the right tackle position. When they want to throw the ball it's more likely Julius Orieukwu will attempt to slow the rush there.

Against Stanford Shawn Lauvao will replace Robert Gustavis at starting left guard, a side of the ball where left tackle Brandon Rodd, another former guard, might possible wish he could switch. It's a move in which coaches are probably expecting to see more of the twists and stunts Oregon State showed (and something virtually guaranteed against USC, which loves to run 4 wickedly athletic lineman while dropping 6 or 7 into coverage).

This line does not lack size or experience, and there's really no reason why they've struggled as much as they have against the pass rush. ASU is tied with UCLA for last in the conference for sacks surrendered with 9. It was especially rough against Oregon State's twisting defensive line, who caught Rudy 4 times and hit him hard many times more. But the line is smart and capable of correcting the mistakes, which would go a long way to giving ASU a real chance to break into the upper echelon of the conference this year.

Gaddabout's Grades note

Was checking the conference numbers today and thought these were interesting:

In the Pac-10 this year so far ASU is:

* 3rd in turnover margin at +4, or +1 per game.
* 2nd in 3rd-down conversion at 46.7%, behind USC's 55.3%
* 2nd in defensive 3rd-down conversion at 30.2%, behind UCLA's 28.8%
* 10th in penalties, averaging an even 8 per game

Considering how rough it's been in efficiency, it bodes well all but the last number are well above passing for historically good teams.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Gaddabout's Grades: Oregon State

As badly as ASU played in the 1st quarter, they magically made their inefficiency disappear over the next 3 quarter to turn around a 19-0 deficit into a 44-32 win.

3rd Down Efficiency

Off. 6 of 16, 37.5%; Def. 5 of 13 38.5%: A virtual draw in percentage is never a good sign, but this was flipped dramatically in the second half to balance out the game numbers. The fact that ASU had three more 3rd down opportunities is probably a number we need to look at more closely. OSU actually won the 1st down battle, 28-19, mainly because they were picking up more yards on 1st and 2nd down and their rushing game was in much better shape than ASU's.

Grade: C-


Ratio: +4. This really comes down to 5 interceptions taken by ASU to 1 taken by OSU. Both teams lost one fumble, but ASU actually put the ball on the ground 3 times. Redshirt freshman Sean Canfield wasn't making great decisions, but you never complain about an opponent's young QB having a bad day. ASU was playing good defense in the second half, and that's really what counts, and Robert James continues to do his best Darren Woodson impression.

Grade: A


6 penalties, 60 yards: A dead heat again, but a big improvement over previous games. These pair of eyes saw many penalties that could have been called on both sides, but the crew seemed determine to keep their flags in their pocket. Six flags a game is right about where ASU wants to be, no more. It's historically a good number.

Grade: A-


Overall grade: B+. It's almost impossible to draw any conclusions about this game or even this team so far, but it does seem clear ASU has a focus issue to start the games. They've been down double digits to Colorado and Oregon State, and generally made all of their worst mental mistakes in the first halves of the four first games. I'm guessing this is how the team is responding to the looser atmosphere around the program these days. These are still Koetter's recruits and they're used to being over-prepared and generally uptight in big games. The good news is when they're dialed in (such as on they are on the comeback trail), they can be a very efficient football team. The bad news is the kinds of mistakes they made so far aren't forgivable against the best Pac-10 teams. You never want to put too much emphasis on one aspect of the game, but here's to the coaches figuring out why players aren't coming out of the gate ready to play football.

Monday, September 24, 2007

OSU was better with Erickson

Last Friday, the Oregonian published an interesting column by John Canzano. Talking to Beaver fans, Canzano writes:

You miss the guy. It's OK to admit it, even if your old silver-haired mercenary is coaching on the other sideline now.

I never thought I'd write this, but while the celebrating and gyrating is going down on Saturday, try to keep it together.

The streak must end

Without wishing to re-open old wounds, probably the most disturbing statistic of the Dirk Koetter era was the "0-for-California" streak. It's not like he just lost consistently at USC, he also lost consistently at Cal (less excusable), UCLA (even less excusable) and Stanford (totally inexcusable).

Anyway, all that can end on Saturday night at the farm. With ASU starting the week as two-touchdown favorites, I'd call this game a "must win".

We're number 23, we're number 23

In years to come, hopefully a twenty-third place ranking will not be cause for celebration in Sun Devil nation. However, after the disappointments of recent years, any recognition for ASU is to be welcomed. The AP poll continues to prove its superiority over the Coaches Poll, not just because ASU is ranked higher. I mean, how is Louisville still getting 18 points from the coaches after losing at home to Syracuse? Meanwhile, the Sagarin Ratings continue to love the Devils, who this week are number 11.

Nice to see that the Associated Press article on the new poll featured Dennis Erickson and the Devils. Lots of good pub for ASU in newspapers around the country this morning.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Gaddabout's Grades

Sometimes resiliency is better than efficiency, and so far the Sun Devils have proven that this season. It was yet another inefficient game and it, once again, kept a Devils' opponent in a game that should not have been so close. It's called playing with fire. It's not something you want to do against a Pac-10 opponent.

3rd Down Efficiency

Off. 4 of 9, 44.4%; Def. 6-of-18 33.3%: It was actually not as good as it looks, because San Diego State was 2-for-2 on 4th down, but the numbers on third down are exactly where they need to be. One can only cross their fingers that these numbers hold up over the course of the season.

Grade: B-


Ratio: Net zero. What can be said? One more strange pass into no man's land for Carpenter that, for all intents and purposes, was easily forgettable considering the game he had. But the fumbles aren't a promising trend for the future. Nolan picked up an INT for the Devils to even things out. Otherwise, no fumbles. That's progress.

Grade: C


8 penalties, 73 yards: I suppose we should be celebrating here because ASU only had one personal foul. The primary offender was the offensive line with four holds and an illegal block, but watching the game I have to agree with Erickson that this referee staff was calling it differently than the first two games. You just don't see holding called that often when the linemen's hands stay inside the shoulders. ASU had an illegal block, but the refs missed a big chop block on SDSU that I think was the play that put Gerald Munns out for three weeks with a Grade 3 knee ligament sprain. It was a pretty nasty block. Not intentional, but I was aghast no flag was thrown.

Grade: C-


Overall grade: C. Better than the Colorado game, but it was still sort of typical of the kind of carelessness we've seen in the out of conference schedule. I'm not expecting this team to set records with efficiency, but these numbers have to improve if they plan on collecting 5 or more wins in the conference. They need to sustain what they're doing on 3rd down and, at the very least, win the turnover battle in a few games without totally blowing it in the rest of the games. I'm going to concede this team -- as with most Erickson teams -- are just going to draw a lot of yellow laundry. You live with it as long as (a) it's not the nasty 15-yard variety and (b) the aggressiveness is also producing the positive kinds of plays that keep spirits high and momentum in maroon and gold.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Winning ugly

With Keegan Herring leading the way, ASU never really looked to be in any trouble versus San Diego State, but it was not an impressive performance. The Aztec offense was clearly the best we've faced so far this season, but the ASU defense struggled more than it should have. Meanwhile, the offense looked great at times, but failed to click for a full 60 minutes.

As Scott Bordow points out, this is the third time in four years that ASU has started 3-0, and we haven't seen enough yet to know what it means for the season.

Meanwhile, there was a bad development in the south. UNRB lost to New Mexico. While any au loss always bring pleasure to this Devil, this loss will surely seal Stoopid's fate. I was hoping he'd win just enough games to keep him around for another few years.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Gaddabout's Grades: Colorado

Gaddabout's Grades is an on-going experiment measuring ASU's efficiency stats in comparison to success on the field. The author believes any earnest study of modern college football history reveals successful teams are efficient teams.

It's almost impossible to pick a spot to begin in a game in which ASU commits seven personal fouls, and 12 total penalties for over 100 yards. The first quarter alone was enough to quarantine the game film and only bring it out as punishment to anyone who thinks reckless abandon is the best and only way to play a game.

In the interest of consistency, I will continue the endeavor:

3rd Down Efficiency

Off. 5-of-18, 27.7%; Def. 4-of-18 22.2%: There's not much to explain here. Defense, good. Offense, disappointing rushing game. With Ryan Torain nursing an ankle injury, there were first-half moments where ASU actually failed to advance the ball an inch on 3rd-and-short. That won't cut it against a Pac-10 team.

If you're looking for the hidden stat here, it's fourth down conversion. ASU was 2/3 and Colorado was 0/4. When combined with 3rd down conversion, ASU was actually at 33 percent while Colorado was at a miserable 18 percent.

Grade: D


-2: Carpenter made one bad throw in this game. No one seemed to be communicating to Tyrice Thompson where he was in relation to the punted ball. Brent Miller makes a good catch downfield only to get a helmet square on the ball. It was a strange game, and one I don't think will be repeated. The only turnover I found disconcerting was the one ASU didn't lose -- Herring's fumble out of bounds that could have really changed the momentum of the game for good.

It's an ugly number, but I don't think it's as bad as it looks. Maybe ASU got this type of game out of the way so they won't have it against the better conference teams. Fingers crossed, anyone?

Grade: C-


12-for-136: Of the 12 penalties, 11 of them were the kinds of mental mistakes directly related to coaching. Erickson said he doesn't see those kinds of mistakes on the practice field. Well, now you've got a whole film of them, coach. Time to get to work.

With the halo rule gone, timing the punt coverage to arrive at the returner at the same time of the ball is now an important skill. Regardless of the rule chance, you STILL CAN'T HIT THE RETURNER BEFORE THE BALL GETS THERE. I'm glad we've got that covered and we can get on with the season without seeing another mental mistake like that one.

Grade: F-


This happens every year. A team defies the efficiency stats and wins a game in spite of eye-popping inefficiency. What I can guarantee you is the never goes on for an entire season. If ASU is in double digits in penalties, upside down in turnover margin, and less than at least 35 percent on offensive 3rd-down conversion, it will not be playing beyond the UA game. That's a college football certainty.

So why did ASU win? Defense has a lot to do with it. Any team that holds an opponent's offense to less than 20 percent third-down conversion will win most of the team. ASU was just that much better than Colorado.

Don't count on surviving a game like this against a ranked opponent, though.

Grade: D-

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The nerds love the Sun Devils

In my humble opinion, the Sagarin ratings published in USA Today is the best of the computer ranking systems. This week, ASU is ranked #12, ahead of Penn State and Ohio State, to name just two. We'll suffer from the weak first-half schedule, but assuming we continue to win, we should stay in the second ten.

I think it's going to be a couple more weeks before the human voters start taking notice. It won't be until the Cal game on October 27 that anyone pays any real attention to us, but if we get to 4-0 we should creep into the top 25.

The curse of Oz

Is Tom Osborne still coaching special teams? On an evening where the defense played (mostly) great and the offense took time to get going, but once it did became unstoppable, it was special teams woes that will cause most unrest in Sun Devil Nation this morning. Fumbles, 15-yard penalties, even a leaping flag for goodness sake.

Oh well, at least it gives us something to gripe about for the next week!

(PS why is Osborne's bio still up on

Update: Give Em Hell Trav posted a nice summary of the personal foul calls.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

SJSU highlights

Thanks to Sun Devil Jon for this recap!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Pigskin Pick'em

Have some fun this NFL season. Join the Wired Devils Pigskin Pick'em group by Thursday and get your Week 1 entries in. It's a free contest (for bragging rights only) where you simply pick each NFL game straight up (no spread) each week.

We're No. 40?

The voter polls are out and ASU has gained 3 votes in the USA Today Coaches' poll -- the one that counts towards BCS ratings. They gained 2 votes, up from 17, in the Week 1 AP poll, but since AP has pulled its support of BCS, it's just about pride.

BCS rankings don't come out until the end of Week 8, but in case you're wondering, here's the BCS rankings formula:

Team percentages are derived by dividing a team's actual voting points by a maximum 2850 possible points in the Harris Interactive Poll and 1575 possible points in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Six computer rankings calculated in inverse points order (25 for #1, 24 for #2, etc.) are used to determine the overall computer component. The best and worst ranking for each team is dropped, and the remaining four are added and divided by 100 (the maximum possible points) to produce a Computer Rankings Percentage. The six computer ranking providers are Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin, and Peter Wolfe. Each computer ranking accounts for schedule strength in its formula.

The BCS Average is calculated by averaging the percent totals of the Harris Interactive, USA Today Coaches and Computer polls.

The computers seem to like ASU better than the voters so far. After Week 1 Sagarain has ASU at No. 22 with an 83.11 rating, a hair more than 10 points off leader LSU.

A perfect weekend

There's nothing quite as satisfying as a Devil victory coming on the same day as a Cat defeat. First, the good guys: how nice to beat an outmatched opponent the way you are supposed to. This wasn't a Utah State or NAU effort, this was a complete demolition. Sure, there were things to improve on, but it was the right way to start a season.

Since the Devils were not televised, I spent a few minutes on Saturday (once I found Versus on my cable system!) enjoying BYU's slapdown of the Rats. I hope au manages a few wins this year so that Stoopid keeps his job; while he is in charge we have no worries about a threat from the South.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Gaddabout's Grades

Long-timers at The Ranch will remember the origination of Gaddabout's Grades a few years ago: We were trying to determine if there was true forward motion in the program. More than a few years back I did a little study of modern-era college football teams, and the teams that were consistently ranked tended to do well in efficiency categories. It was not 100 percent accurate every year, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a team that had extended success that didn't do well in efficiency categories.

Since the advent of the Top 25 (as opposed to the original Top 20), ranked teams tended to have the following qualities: better than 38 percent offensive 3rd-down conversion; less than 38 percent defensive 3rd-down conversion; 6.5 penalties a game or less; a season's turnover margin better than approximately +8. ASU consistently failed in Gaddabout's Grades under Koetter, and actually regressed the last two seasons. The penalty situation was exacerbated by the kind of penalties ASU received -- the kind of 10 yards or more. It is no stretch to state that Koetter's unemotional approach to game prep had no impact on ASU's execution during the game. In fact, it was some of ASU's least efficient years in memory.

I did not expect ASU to make any dramatic improvements in these categories under Erickson. His teams tend to draw a lot of penalties from aggressive play. I did expect improvement in 3rd down efficiency on both sides of the ball. I think turnovers always will depend on the strength of the running game and experience at quarterback.

3rd Down Efficiency

Off. 13-of-17, 76.4%; Def. 28.5%: Total domination by ASU in this category. This is a direct relationship to ASU's line play. When it counted -- in the first half -- ASU was 6-of-7 to SJSU's 3-of-7.

Maybe ASU didn't get a lot of pressure on the QB, but the line held their gaps. On the other side, this is the product of strong running and a line blowing holes open. When you're constantly facing 3rd-and-short on offense, you tend to score more touchdowns and attempt less field goals. It's a sign of many other things going right.

Grade: A


+1: Nothing dynamite here, but ASU got two interceptions by forcing SJSU to do what it didn't want to do -- throw the ball. I'm giving a little extra credit here because the fumble came from Brent Miller, a typically reliable tight end, rather than from a quarterback or running back. Danny Sullivan also fumbled but got it back -- and credit to him for not losing his head in what was a very efficient game for him.

Grade: B


5-for-40: Not bad. The intensity was high as it should be in the season opener. I would have been forgiving if ASU picked up a few more considering the intensity and a coach who lets his teams have fun on the field, but 5 penalties a game for the season is conference champion-type numbers. Both USC and Cal have averaged about 5.5 penalties a game the past 5 seasons.

What was also interesting was SJSU's 3 penalties. Not only was ASU heavily penalized last year, they seemed to draw the other team into drawing a lot of penalties, too. The number of the opponent usually does drop when the better team executes well. It tends to raise the level of execution for both teams. I suspect that's what we saw here.

Grade: A-


I cannot imagine the season starting better for ASU. They didn't just destroy the opponent, they avoided the kinds of execution pitfalls that suggested red flags for the future. For now I will ring this up as what we should have expected from a mostly veteran staff who knows how to get a team ready for a season opener.

The greater challenge is maintaining this kind of execution throughout the season. One cannot expect ASU to maintain a 75% third-down conversion percentage for an entire season, but 60+% for the month of September would be reason to get excited for this team heading into conference play. It would be much better if ASU clocked a +2 or better in turnovers, but if the 3rd-down conversion ratios remain strong and penalties continue to stay at a minimum, ASU won't need to collect so many turnovers to beat good teams. They will, however, need to hold on to the ball.

Overall grade: A-

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My not-so-fearless prediction

Each year I make a prediction about the look and feel of the team before Tontozona. I don't look at the schedule. No analysis is done on the level of competition or any other external factors. I merely look down the roster of the team and come up with a number of wins I think the team is likely to produce.

Last year I said the team looked like a 7-win team. I had concerns about the lack of identity among the receivers, the lack of speed among the front 7, and the lack of experience in the secondary. In hindsight, there were many more problems facing the team, but I still felt I had the right notion about the team before the season began.

Before I get to this year, allow me to explain why I do this. I used to read all the magazines before a season, tried to analyze every little factor, every team in every major conference. This led to a good working knowledge of coaches and traditions, but it did little for my ability to predict winners and losers. College football is one of the more unpredictable sports in America. The regular season is a playoff, with one game a week, and it sets up nearly impossible to predict factors that affect a game beyond what we consider measurable dynamics. However, I did begin to see a pattern of winning based on very simple factors:

- Historical success of the head coach
- Returning starters, particularly 4th- and 5th-year seniors
- Relative strength of the units

OK, so it's not as simple as finding the team with the most returning seniors playing for a marginally successful head coach. A 3-8 team returning a lot of senior starters doesn't stand much of a chance of improving dramatically the next season. However, a team with 6 or 7 wins, returning a lot of starters/seniors, and with three or more strong units stands a very good chance of improving their status for the next season. This is especially true when there is senior leadership at QB.

ASU looks like an 8-win team to me this year. Keep in mind, I'm not looking at the schedule, and I'm making the probable assumption they will lose a game they shouldn't lose and win a game they shouldn't win. That's just college football.

The coach

Forget this is his first year. Dennis Erickson is one of the most successful active head coaches in college football. He resurrected Idaho, turned around Wazoo, maintained Miami, and built on his predecessor's success at Oregon State. What seems to be most true about Erickson is his allegiance to letting athletes be athletes. His schemes aren't new -- the playbook may not have changed much since he was an assistant for Jim Sweeney (to be fair, Sweeney was well ahead of his time innovating one-back schemes). What he does is try to put as much speed on the field as possible and put that athleticism in a position to make plays. He makes things fairly simple for his linemen. You won't find complex blocking schemes or defensive linemen being asked to hold gaps for linebackers to fill. Just beat the guy in front of you and get up or downfield. This bodes well for ASU and would seem to eliminate the problems of a new coach trying to overcoach a new team.

The returning starters/seniors

ASU will have 16 players (some redundant) with starting experience to fill 22 positions, with 13 seniors returning to the two-deep. The better number here is the latter, because it speaks to the production of the future graduating class, while leaving some question marks about 2008. Four of those seniors made the pre-season all-Pac-10 team, joined by sophomore defensive end Dexter Davis. It's a good sign of forward motion from last year.

General unit strength

The offense is strong across the board, and there are only three real question marks here:
(+ = major strengths, / = adequate, ! = major concerns)

QB (/): Can Rudy Carpenter recapture his accuracy and decision making of 2005? The likely answer is, "Yes," because the offense is no longer a strict downfield passing game. Erickson's offense is catered to Carpenter's style, allowing him to utilize the shotgun to see over the linemen, eliminate problematic drop-back footwork, and put more emphasis on shorter timing routes that lets the receiver do the work rather than the QB trying to deliver passes requiring major-league arm strength and timing. The concern here is the lack of depth and experience. If Carpenter is injured, the team can likely expect to take at least one step backwards in expectations. More if one of the youngsters doesn't grab the No. 2 job early and get some snap work with the first unit early in the practice season.

RB (+): Probably the strongest this position has been since Bruce Snyder's years, and perhaps the most talented since Frank Kush left Darryl Rogers a stack of talent in the early 80s. Torain will probably finish his two-year career among the best ever RBs at the school. Keegan Herring and Dimitri Nance are starter-capable backups with change-of-pace skill in the second and fourth quarters.

WR (!): Stands to be the most improved position, and look out for the youngsters, but someone will have to emerge as an every-down type receiver at the X and Z positions for this unit to solidify. It is potentially every bit an asset as the RB unit, but the Devils will need Mike Jones, Nate Kimbrough, and Chris McGaha to combine for at least 80 catches to open up the field for the talented slot receivers and tight ends. Without that kind of production, the defenses will shorten their safety coverage again and make it difficult to move the ball in larger chunks. The trio collected a meager 51 last year.

OL (+): It would be easy to panic about the lack of a true left tackle with all-conference pass protecting ability. Fact is, the line hasn't been a great pass blocking line since the start of the 2006 season. Since then, injuries have redefined this group. They've suddenly become a massive run-blocking group that opens holes for Torain. It doesn't look to change identities, with Brandon Rodd, Robert Gustavis, Mike Pollack, Paul Fanaika, Richard Tuitu'u, and Shawn Lauvao all showing strong run-blocking abilities. What should change is this line's ability to pick up blitzers with better line calls and technique. The loss of Carnahan to injury was especially difficult and exposed a line strong at guard and weak at tackle. This year positions are more settled and there won't be so much guessing taking place from week to week. A less stated but bigger concern is the mental toughness of the line, which was guilty of numerous false starts at critical junctures last year. Again, experience and position stability allows the assumption of improvement.

DL (!): The Devils appear to not have made any progress from last year. Once again they start the season with a strong half of a line, and two question marks on the other half. This year Dexter Davis and Michael Marquardt look to be strong anchors. It's a good start. Unfortunately injuries and inexperienced left the starters on the other side undecided heading into Tontozona, and it's never a good sign to start a season with questions at this unit. It stands to be a smaller, quicker unit, and if things don't go well to start the season, the staff may find it easier to tinker with 30 alignments with some hybrid looks from quick OLBs than trying to force a 40 front when personnel doesn't match.

LB (/): I actually like the talent here, and there's no shortage of depth. What I'm waiting on is for someone to show star ability at the position -- absolutely necessary to field a good defense in college football. Perhaps the corps will be quicker with Ryan McFoy making a move to OLB, but he will have to earn that position among strong, instinctive players like Travis Goethel and Gerald Munns. Goethel may end up being that star, with a Tillman-like tendency to read angles and make sure tackles. Morris Wooten in the middle gained some kudos during the spring, but nothing is ever certain when a transfer is starting his first year at MLB. Mike Nixon appears to be the utility backer who will move where depth requires him.

DB (/): CB Justin Tryon and S Josh Barrett return to put ASU secondary on solid ground for once in a long time, and the emergence of S Troy Nolan could make this unit one of the strongest in the conference. The question mark remains who will start opposite Tryon, and while decent candidates return, it appears JC transfer Jarrell Holman is lightly penciled in as the starter. The relationship between DL and the secondary is inseparable. They may be the two most integrated units in the game. A great shut-down secondary can create coverage sacks. A great all-around DL can force teams to throw when they don't want to and force QBs to make bad decisions. ASU honestly doesn't have either, though the secondary appears capable of making a strong showing if the defensive line can at least be effective against the run and allow Dexter Davis to avoid double teams in obvious passing situations.

ST (/): Punting looks relatively strong, kicking is a big question mark, but the return game is potentially better than the last year's strong effort. One hopes a return to conventional special teams looks improves the kick and punt coverage teams. Some talent, some question marks, but nothing so glaring to raise concerns going into the season. Freshman kicker Thomas Weber showed very good ability during the spring with the occasional hiccup. You never know how a kicker will perform until they take the field, though.


The team is better positioned to produce this year than last year. There's no controversy, no lingering off-the-field issues, and the players have a pretty good idea who will start where at most positions. Erickson is human and he's not going to turn this team into a BCS contender overnight. The talent just isn't quite there. However, the general schemes aren't changing (one-back offense, 4-3 defense), and if anything everything's been easier to learn for the players than if Koetter and staff had stuck around another year. Whether you believe in leadership or simply the best players giving a team a strong identity, it is a positive sign to see so many productive seniors on the two-deep. The offense won't have to guess who they are and what they want to do -- Torain and the OL will be featured, with Carpenter and the receivers allowed to play pitch and catch without having to do complicated adjustments on the fly. The defense needs starters to self-identify quickly at Tontozona to avoid players moving into positions by default. If players like Saia Falahola, Luis Vasquez, and Jonathan English can produce on the weakside of the defensive line, the entire defense has an opportunity to excel. But those are big ifs, and productivity there remains to be seen.

It's why I'm pegging the 2007 win total at 8.25, with the Devils giving themselves a chance to compete for a Holiday Bowl bid.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pac-10 Champs!

Needing to win just one of three games versus the Rats, the Devils didn't screw around. They won the first game to clinch the undisputed Pac-10 title for the first time since 1993. Hard to believe it's been that long.

It will definitely be a surprise if ASU doesn't host a Regional and Super-Regional in the NCAA tournament.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Great weekend for the bats

A nice showing this past weekend by both the baseball and softball teams.

In baseball, the Devils swept the Oregon State Beavers, and now just need to win one game against au this week to lock up the Pac-10 title.

In softball, ASU won the regional by beating BYU and now hosts LSU in the super-regional this weekend.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

ESPN to televise the Territorial Cup

ESPN announced some more of the early selections for televised games, and the schedule includes the Sun Devils hosting au on Staurday, December 1st in primetime, either on ESPN or ESPN2.

Remember, this game was moved from it's traditional Thanksgiving weekend slot so that ESPN could televise the ASU/USC game on Thanksgiving day, so the Sun Devils will now be on nationally televised primetime games two weeks in a row.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mixed day for Sun Devil / Raider fans

Al Davis sent mixed signals to Sun Devil nation yesterday. First, he drafted JaMarcus Russell and traded for Josh McCown, effectively ending Andrew Walter's career in Oakland. (Of course, one could argue that this will be best for Andrew in the long run, since he was going to get killed behind that porous line in Oakland.)

However, the silver-and-black then drafted Zack Miller in round two. Zack should be able to catch some of those 60 yard passes that Russell will be throwing from his knees this season.

While on the subject of the draft, it was a rough day for the Pac-10, with Cal's Marshawn Lynch the only player selected in Round One . For now we'll assume it's an aberration.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

While we were gone...

Random events in Sun Devil land. The Sun Devil Marching Band unveiled new uniforms (the band even has its own message board!); TBone is looking for Sun Devils in Texas (not 100% sure what he plans to do with them); I found a site that everyone else has probably known about for a long time, which allows me to track news stories about Dennis Erickson; Gaddabout wrote a brief ASU recruiting history; Uni Watch discussed why one member of the baseball team has been wearing a green undershirt for each game.

Lame poll, but we need to support Sparky nontheless

CBS SportsLine is running a poll to determine the "Most Dominant College Mascot on Earth".

Obviously I'm not a big fan of these types of thing, but it's our obligation to promote ASU whenever possible, so go ahead and vote for Sparky, especially to avoid the embarrassment of losing to Southern Utah.

Of course, Sparky's greatest ever appearance in pop culture was in Nissan's commercial that ran during last year's lead-up to the Heisman presentation.

Oregon State turn to Brandi Chastain for uniform advice

Unbelievably, Oregon State has managed to "out-ugly" their in-state rivals in the uniform wars.

As noted by Uni Watch, the Beavers must "really like how the front of the jersey looks like a sports bra."

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

4VRADVL knows his hoops!

Well, the ESPN Tournament Challenge has ended, and one of our own had a pretty impressive showing. 4VRADVL ended up ranked 13,147 nationally, which puts him in the top half percentile.

On a related note, how freaking jealous are you of the University of Florida? Can you imagine being a 20 year-old junior at UF right now? You've just watched your school win three national championships in 12 months. Life must be good.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Barrett named to Lott Trophy watch list

ASU safety Josh Barrett has been named to the Lott Trophy watch list. Based on reports from spring drills, it's too bad Troy Nolan doesn't have a season under his belt to qualify for the watch list, too.

Nolan has been so good, ASU felt comfortable moving all-around sophomore athlete Ryan McFoy to outside linebacker, allowing McFoy to potentially follow in the footsteps of other ASU safety/linebacker hybrids: Darren Woodson, Pat Tillman, and Adam Archuletta.

Part of ASU's secondary problems last year had to do with the inexperience among the safety depth chart. One figures that to not only improve, but it appears to be a truth strength of next year's defense. With the cornerbacks also showing some improvement -- both in skill and depth -- perhaps ASU can gamble more in the front 7 without getting burned as often.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Corner help on the way?

Fresh off the high-speed Canadian sports wire ... Staff

3/31/2007 10:41:31 PM

Université Laval defensive back Leaf Bondoot has received permission to transfer, most likely to an American university, the school announced Saturday.

Laval spokesman Alain Vinzioto said Bondoot wishes to seek more exposure in the U.S., as well as pursue an emphasis on Latin American studies.

"It is our policy not to restrict student-athletes who do not wish to remain a member of our community," Vinzioto said during a phone interview. "We released Leaf with best wishes for his future pursuits, whatever they may be."

Bondoot's father, Gunther, said no decision has been made on a future school, but the family has received interest from Arizona State University.

"We are looking for a school that sends football players to the NFL, and where Leaf can pursue his academic dreams," Gunther said. "Right now, Arizona State appears the very best option."

The 19-year-old Bondoot, a 6'3", 205-lbs. cornerback, played in the final four games as a freshman for the Rouge last season, collecting three interceptions and 10 tackles. He grabbed national attention two years ago by running a 10.38 100 meters -- in bare feet -- in a national outdoor preparatory meet, just three days shy of his 17th birthday.

Laval had high hopes for Bondoot, despite his only playing one year of organized football. Coaches pointed to his family history of athletic accomplishment. Gunther, now a medical records clerk in Montreal, was an alternate member of the 1984 500m Iceland speed skating team. His mother, Azami, has two older brothers who competed in last month's Nihon Sumo Kyokai Grand Sumo Tournament.

Laval head coach Glen Constatin had no comment about Bondoot's decision to transfer. The coach raved about Bondoot's potential and ability early last season.

"You cannot teach natural ability," he said. "He's like a ballet dancer in the body of a warrior."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Report Faults Officers in Tillman Case

For the most part, this blog is fortunate to be able to focus on fun and even trivial issues. So it's with a heavy heart that I point out that, nearly three years after his death, the truth about the Army's handling of Pat Tillman's final hours continues to unfold.

I don't want to add any commentary of my own to this, except to point out that it may be a good moment to spend a few minutes reading some excellent articles from the Wired Devils Archives, including Kevin Tillman's piece and these items from SI and ESPN.

Women's team continue to impress

The Sun Devil women's hoops team beat upstart Bowling Green to make it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament for the first time in the history of the program.

The program officially hit the big time yesterday with the introduction of a new message board over at Cactus Ranch dedicated to the women's team. Larry moved some of the existing posts over to the new board, including this immortal effort calling for Charli Turner Thorne to be fired. Way to go, "Corey Graving"!

Dan Bickley continues to prove himself to be a complete fraud with this blog entry where he asks "Shouldn't we all (be proud of the women's team)?" Where the hell does Bickley get off referring to Sun Devil fans as "we"? Why should he feel proud of anything related to ASU? He may as well be proud of Rutgers or UCONN.

Meanwhile, 18 hours after the Rutgers/Duke game ended, the ASU website proudly notes that ASU will be playing TBA in the next round. Meanwhile, most other sources seem to think that the Sun Devils will be playing Rutgers on Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. Eastern (some nice primetime exposure on the East Coast!).

Update 3/26/07: 11 hours before tipoff, still has TBA listed as the next opponent on the Women' Basketball Schedule. Is anyone in the Athletic Department awake?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Loren Howard retires

Loren Howard told the coaching staff Tuesday that he was not physically capable of fulfilling the NCAA-granted sixth-year of eligibility, according to Arizona Republic reporter Jeff Metcalfe. The former transfer from Northwestern was plagued by knee injuries throughout his once-promising career.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tournament Challenge Update

After the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Wired Devils contest sees a couple of early leaders. Both Berumen 1 and baptist 1 have 510 points after two rounds, putting them in the top 3 percentile nationally. Meanwhile, your humble author ranks in the bottom 20 percentile, and I think I'm only that high because a lot of people signed up but didn't fill out their brackets in time.

It's worth noting that Berumen 1 would be ranked even higher if he/she had not made the almost unforgivable mistake of picking au to get to the second round.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Football returns under Erickson

The Dennis Erickson era of Arizona State football kicks off in earnest Monday with the beginning of spring drills. Fans are welcome to watch each practice, but not without permission. If you'd like to attend you must contact the Sun Devil football office at 480-965-3429 in advance. Dates and times for practices are listed below, but they are subject to change. Don't bring your camera, because only media members are allowed to shoot practices.

Monday, March 19 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Tuesday, March 20 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Thursday, March 22 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Saturday, March 24 9:35-11:45 a.m. at Sun Devil Stadium

Monday, March 26 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Tuesday, March 27 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Thursday, March 29 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Saturday, March 31 3:30-5:30 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium

Monday, April 2 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Tuesday, April 3 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Thursday, April 5 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Saturday, April 7 1:15-3:45 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium

Tuesday, April 10 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Thursday, April 12 4:00-6:20 p.m. at Kajikawa Practice Facility
Saturday, April 14 7:30 p.m. Annual Spring Game at Sun Devil Stadium

The biggest change to spring drills this year is the invitation of the media to rejoin everyone else on the practice field. Make sure you welcome back Jeff Metcalfe and the rest of the local gang.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

First prize? Not much except our admiration

Since Herb fell a couple of games short of taking the men's team to the NCAA tournament this year, let's have some fun and see who can predict the tourney best!

I created a Wired Devils group in ESPN's Men Tournament Challenge -- you need to sign up before the first game starts on Thursday.

Maybe this goes without saying, but all entries should have au losing in round one.

What do we know about the UC Riverside Women's Hoops Team?

If you're looking for an in-depth analysis of the ASU/UC Riverside matchup in the first round of the women's basketball tournament, you've come to the wrong place. Apart from knowing that UC Riverside is in Riverside, CA, there's not much I can tell you (but click here for ESPN's take).

The women's hoops team deserves a lot of credit for their performance to-date this season, and it would be the National semi-final game before we'd have to face Stanford again. Since we seem to be able to beat everyone except the Cardinal, hopefully Idaho State, ODU, Xavier or LSU will chop down the tree and clear the path.

And while we're admiring the women's achievements, I messed up big-time by not mentioning the National Championship won by the Sun Devil Women's Track & Field Team this past weekend.

Monday, March 12, 2007

More Sun Devils in the College Football Hall of Fame?

Two greats from ASU's past and two coaches who will be remembered more for their time at other schools are on the 2007 Ballot for College Football Hall of Fame.

Al Harris, Arizona State-Defensive End-Named unanimous First Team All-America and Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy finalist in 1978…Named First Team All-Conference, he set an ASU record with 19 sacks in 1978.

Randall McDaniel, Arizona State-Offensive Guard-Two-Time First Team All-America (1986-87) – consensus in 1987… Named PAC-10’s Top Offensive Lineman (1987); Led ASU to their first-ever Rose Bowl appearance and victory in 1987… Two-time All Conference pick.

John Cooper-Tulsa (1977-84), Arizona State (1985-87), Ohio State (1988-2000)-Led his teams to at least a share of nine conference championships and 14 bowl game appearances, including two Rose Bowls. Coached Ohio State to a Top 25 finish in 12 of 13 seasons…Coached 21 First Team All-Americas.

Darryl Rogers-Cal State-Hayward (1965), Fresno State (1966-72), San Jose State (1973-75), Michigan State (1976-79), Arizona State (1980-84)-Took Fresno State to two bowl games. Achieved an unprecedented national ranking at San Jose State…Was BIG TEN Coach of the Year in 1977 and National Coach of the Year by Sporting News in 1978…Won the BIG TEN title in 1978.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

A look back at the week that was

Jake the Snake retired? He must really hate those halo rules in the Tampa Bay area strip joints or maybe he is afraid of hurricanes. All he had to do to win the job in Tampa was beat out Christian Laettner err I mean Chris Simms. Instead it sounds like he has entered a game of chicken with Mike Shanahan
to try to get his release so he can reunite with Gary Kubiak in Houston while at the same time getting a nice fat signing bonus for his trouble. In the Salary Cap era Jake is surely making the savvy financial play. While you have to be concerned that a guy with bleached white fake teeth and a better tan than George Hamilton is worried about how he looks, Shanahan can't afford the 6 mill cap hit if Plummer reports to the Broncos.

The Ugly rumor of the week comes out of all places Tucson, the rumor making to way through the circle Ks and Carls Jr's of the Old Pueblo has Lute Olson suffering from early stages of Parkinsons. Sure Lute's coaching style nowadays resembles Paul Westhead or maybe a Westhead Bobble head more than the NCAA Championship coach he was almost a decade ago but to have some of his own folk to turn on him like must be rough. Olson and syndicated radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh assert that he is perfectly healthy for a man of 96 and looks to continue coaching into the next decade. However some fans in Tucson aren't buying it or feel that chasing out the Man who put them on the Map for the sake of their own vanity is OK. When I reached Asst. Jim Rosborough for comment he angrily muttered something about ASU under his breath and then destroyed a chair yelling "Fire Bad!"

The More things change the more they stay the same…Hakim Hill is once again arrested on alcohol charges. This time Hill either thought he was in a Taxi or not in the Valley. Last time I checked the police out here love busting rich athletes who act like idiots such as Mike Tyson, Cliff Robinson, Stephon Marbury, Mike Tyson, Louis Sharpe and Mike Tyson. The officer accused Hill of offering a wad of cash in exchange for a ride to the Scottsdale area. Well at least we know Hill that has a pretty good idea of ridiculous rates being charged by Phoenix Taxi companies.

ASU 22 Arizona 8 - Doesn't it figure that the Devils destroy the Cats in a game that doesn't count in the conference standings? This 2007 edition of ASU baseball might have the most talent of any in the Pat Murphy Era. This is both a blessing and a curse for Murphy who has yet to bring Devils fans the national championship they need to place him in the pantheon of great ASU skippers. Murphy upgraded his coaching staff this off season and the early results of new recruiting guru Turtle Thomas have been very promising. Let's just hope that like another famous Turtle future recruits don't pull a Saigon and skip out on their commitments for the big bucks, unless the Red Sox draft them.

Parting Shots
Sam Keller went on record saying that in the NFL when asked he will say he is a Nebraska Cornhusker. Honestly I have no problem with this move and it would be stupid of Sam to say anything to contrary. Nebraska officials did say that if Keller finds himself in the XFL 2 that when asked he can say that he went to ASU.

Dirk Koetter once again made his cryptic comment that ASU is not what it appeared to be. Well Dirk neither were you so let's just say it didn't work out and move on. I've dumped girls who didn't whine about getting the axe as much as Koetter.

Willy Fox now a Demon Deacon pointed out the difference between Wake Forest and ASU this week when he said "ASU is warm, and you have to go to class here. That makes it a little different." Look for other musings in Fox's upcoming autobiography "Sad Realizations".