We took the red eye back from Portland on Saturday after a week at Manzanita on the Oregon Coast. It is a lot of fun down there, and the weather was great. One thing you see is a lot of spirit shown for Oregon, and Oregon State in the 4th of July parade we went to. Oregon is on fire for it's college sport teams. Lot's of orange, and green flags hanging from the houses.
Up at Montlake they have delayed the debut of the final plan they are going to present to the regents for the remodel of Husky Stadium. One thing that is holding them up is agreements between the state regarding 520, and also the new Sound Transit Station. A number of readers of Dawgman were pretty critical, but to me it is no big deal. It is going to be complicated, expensive, and take a lot of time to get done.
One thing that is becoming very clear is that it is going to require public money. Imagine spending public money on a sports program that isn't owned by a private entity? Would voters stand behind that if it included money for WSU also?
Husky Stadium is looking more, and more like a 400 million dollar project which means for the most part that almost the entire stadium will be rebuilt over the next 10-15 years. Husky football has a great legacy, but large scale donations of that type are not part of that legacy even though the program has always been self supporting.
Arizona State Preview
Dennis Erickson arrived on the scene at Tempe this Winter, and after Spring practiced he declared that the Sun Devils had a lot of work to do over the Summer to get competitive for 2007. On paper you would think that Dirk Koetter left him with enough talent to get at least a running jump at things with a good chance to qualify for a bowl in his first season.
At QB Rudy Carpenter was wildly inconsistent when he was handed the job last Fall. He appears for the most part to be back on track this spring, though he wasn't terribly impressive during the spring game. One of the Sun Devils' weaknesses last year was at receiver. That may change after sophomores Kyle Williams and Brandon Smith emerged this spring, displacing more experienced players in the process as Erickson began to clean house.
At RB Ryan Torrain logged in over 1200 yards last season as the Devil's proved they could move it on the ground. The Devils are very deep at this position and need to get some of the kids who are in this log jam on to the field in 2007.
Arizona State returns essentially six veteran offensive line starters -- the five players who were first-teamers for the final five games of last season, and Zach Krula, who was a mainstay at right guard before going down with a severe ankle injury in 2005. Together, they could be the best and most talented offensive line the Sun Devils have had in years.
The Sun Devils' defense was atrocious in 2005. That same unit grew up dramatically in 2006, allowing just 117 yards per game on the ground, the lowest average posted by the team since 1997. Key cogs return with sack leader Dexter Davis in the mix as well as Josh Barnett at safety.
ASU is a bit thin up front, but in the mid-year JUCO signing period, the Sun Devils added Arizona Western Community College star Luis Vasquez, and Phoenix College standout Eric Tanner. Vasquez is a 6-foot-3, 247-pounder who led the NJCAA with 16 sacks as a freshman in 2005 and followed up that season with 15 sacks as a sophomore. His 31 sacks were more than any player in the NJCAA over the two-year period. Tanner is a 6-foot-2, 253-pounder who had 63 tackles and seven sacks last season. As spring concluded, Vasquez had risen to the first-team spot opposite Davis, ahead of senior Kellen Mills, while Tanner made substantial strides and was working with the second-team at times.
S Ryan McFoy's move from linebacker to safety by the second day of spring practice has created better competition at linebacker between Jeremy Payton and Troy Nolan. Look for more blitzes this year as Erickson opens things up. Nolan could be the biggest surprise on this Sun Devils' squad after all is said, and done.
The biggest problem with the defense is in the defensive backfield where players need to emerge to keep the Devil's pass happy opponents from tearing them apart. Justin Tryon has locked up one cornerback spot, but the other is a gaping void, particularly after Chad Green suffered significant head injuries in a car crash. JC transfer Jarrell Holman may be the front-runner at this point, but true freshman Omar Bolden could get into the mix if he get's in.
ASU doesn't have a returning field goal kicker. That job could fall to punter Jonathan Johnson or freshman Thomas Weber.
The Consensus on Arizona State
The Devils' are rebuilding, but the talent base isn't exacty bare. Expect the team to finish at the lower end of the conference as Erickson spends the year rebuilding it in his image. Erickson is the king of the quick turn around, and no matter the record at the end of the season his Devils are going to compete each game.
While this game is on the road the Huskies have a real good chance to bet the Sun Devils. I think if we weren't having QB injury problems last season we would have been victorious since they did everything to try to keep us in the game.