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

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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!