Friday, November 30, 2007

1 Day Til the Game...Here's Some Links

Dan Zeiger of the Trib reveals his fondest Territorial Cup memories

Josh Barrett is out for his last Cup with an MCL sprain

A Tucson Sun Devil reflects on his years representing the Maroon and Gold south of the border.

Lute Olson is still getting paid his huge salary even though he's been MIA. That is one sick retirement package.

Adam Archuleta talks about his memories of Sean Taylor

The State Press previews the basketball team's trip to Lincoln.

And finally, Arizona corner Antoine Cason talks some smack in preparation for the big game (audio file.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Week in Review

After two blow out wins this week over Cal Poly and Florida Gulf Coast, the Devils are showing an offensive fortitude that was the gleaming weakness of last year's team. Sure the two games this week were against cupcakes, but we played teams of similar skill last year in the non-conference schedule and struggled. The team is averaging 73.6ppg this season through the first 5 games compared to 67.6 ppg last year and keep in mind that the first three opponents this year (Illinois, Princeton, LSU) play a bit tougher D than last year's first three opponents (NAU, Cal State San Bernadino, Portland State). Make no mistake, Sendek's bunch has made strides since last year.

The main reason, beyond Year 2 of the Sendek Era, is freshman phenom James Harden. For anyone who wasn't sure how good Harden would be for the Devils, the freshman is leading the team in scoring (17.6 ppg), steals (2.0 spg), blocks (1.2 bpg), minutes (28.6 mpg) and has only 2 less rebounds on the season than preseason Wooden Award candidate Jeff Pendergraph. With Harden, ASU has a reliable go-to scoring option, as opposed to last year where we would hope that Pendergraph could get through a double team or that Christian Polk could hit a prayer as the shot clock expired.

Moving Jerren Shipp into the starting lineup has helped as well as the sophomore has brought steady experience and a basketball IQ that the young nucleus can learn from. This also allows Polk, Derek Glasser, Antwi Atuahene, and Eric Boateng to come off the bench to provide quality minutes. While the idea at the beginning of the season was that Pendergraph and Boateng could dominate the boards, Boateng is still very raw and ASU has benefited from playing a smaller lineup that has been stellar around the perimeter, and Polk and Glasser have been great off the bench.

Next Game: Sunday at Nebraska, 1 pm on ESPNU

Also, look for a podcast in the coming weeks with more analysis and guests as we get deeper into the season.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Need a laugh?

In the spirit of the rivarly and to help get you through your hump day, here are some good anti-UA jokes to drop on your co-workers and "friends" from Northern Nogales Tech. Thanks to our friend 4VRADVL for some of these. Hump day quick links coming later today.

Q: How do you get a UA graduate off your porch?
A: Pay him for your Chinese food.

Q: What's the difference between Arizona's football program and Cheerios?
A: Cheerios have made significant bowl apperances.

Q: What did the average UA football player get on his SAT?
A: Drool.

A teacher once asked a student, who was wearing an ASU shirt, what he wanted to be when he grew up, to which he responded "I want to do what my parents do, no matter what!"
The teacher responded, "Well, what if your mom was a hooker and your dad dealt drugs? Would you still want to do what they did?"
The kid, in all his wisdom, said quickly, "That would never happen, my parents didn't go to the U of A."

Q: How many UA freshmen does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, because you have to be a sophomore to have that training.

Q: What do you do if you find a UA fan buried to their neck in cement?
A: Get more cement, of course.

Q: How do you make Arizona Wildcat cookies?
A: Trick question. It's impossible because you can never put Arizona in a bowl.

Q: What's the most likely way for ASU to go to the Rose Bowl?
A: Win the Pac-10.
Q: What's the most likely way for UA to go to the Rose Bowl?
A: Ask for directions.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The State of the Pac-10: 11/24/07

UCLA's Alterraun Verner, in no purposeful way, helped out Arizona State today.

The Oregon Ducks (or at least, a strange, parallel universe version of the Ducks) lost 16-0 to UCLA today at the Rose Bowl, taking control of the Pacific 10 championship straight out Cody Kempt's little hands.

So now, after all three heavyweights have played their Week 13 games, let's reset and take a look at the bowl situation for each team.

USC, at 6-2, is now in control of the Pac-10. A win over UCLA next week at the LA Coliseum puts them into the Rose Bowl regardless of what else happens throughout the Pac on December 1.
NEXT GAME: Vs. UCLA, December 1, 2:30 PM, L.A. Coliseum

Arizona State, at 6-2, needs only now to beat Arizona on December 1 to clinch at least a tie for the conference championship and finish no lower than 2nd in the Pac-10, sending them at least to the Holiday Bowl.
NEXT GAME: Vs. Arizona, December 1, 6:00 PM, Sun Devil Stadium

Oregon, at 5-3, needs both USC and Arizona State to lose and a win in the Civil War to claim a portion of the Pac-10 Title. A win by either of those teams, and Oregon will go to no higher bowl than the Holiday.
NEXT GAME: Vs. Oregon State, December 1, 2:30 PM, Autzen Stadium

And, strangely enough, UCLA still has a shot at a share of the Pac-10. If all three of those teams above lose, there will be a four way tie for 1st place.
NEXT GAME: at USC, December 1, 2:30 PM, L.A. Coliseum

So, in layman terms (minus the blatantly obvious situations), here's what's up:
-If USC and ASU both win, they are Pac-10 Co-Champions, but USC gets the automatic BCS bid by virtue of beating Arizona State. Arizona State would be in line for a BCS at-large invite or a trip to the Holiday Bowl.
-If either of those two teams lose, grab the nearest pile of manure you can find and throw it directly at the nearest fan.

If Oregon wins and...
-USC and ASU lose, Oregon and UCLA would be the co-champions of the Pac-10.
-USC wins and ASU loses, USC wins the Pac-10, Oregon takes 2nd over ASU by virtue of their win over the Sun Devils.

If UCLA wins and...
-Oregon and ASU lose, they tie with USC and ASU (6-3) at the top of the Pac-10, then it gets even messier because then UCLA will have lost to Arizona State but have beaten USC.

You know what? Forget it. My head hurts.

The only thing that matters...the only thing we can control is...

What They're Saying About ASU/USC

And most of it...not surprisingly...not complimentary about Arizona State. That picture is pretty much the story of the season for Arizona State...9-2 or 2-9.

Jeff Metcalfe, Arizona Republic: USC Overpowers ASU
Yup. Pretty much. The numbers don't lie here. ASU got manhandled in every aspect of the football game.

Jeff Metcalfe, Arizona Republic Blog: ASU to Fiesta or Holiday Bowl?
The Holiday Bowl seems likely, the Sun Bowl even more likely and like I've been saying since October, it doesn't make any financial sense to bring ASU to the Fiesta Bowl. It would be great for tradition and the fans, but try selling to Fiesta Bowl yellow-coats and sponsors that half of the fans coming to the game aren't traveling to the Valley.

Paola Boivin, Arizona Republic Blog (2 of them): Erickson is The Man, ASU Gets Dose of Reality
Coach Erickson does have a heart; it shows you just the difference in personality and maturity between Dirk and Dennis. In the other blog, she couldn't be more right...ASU just straight got smacked in the mouth.

Dan Zeiger, East Valley Tribune: USC Feasts on Arizona State
Sad but true folks. Forget about crunching the numbers and hoping for other teams to lose. ASU blew their chance at the Pac-10 Thursday night.

Kyle Odegard, East Valley Tribune: Sun Devils, Carpenter Stuffed by USC
Maybe trash talking to Everson Griffen during the coin toss and during the game wasn't such a great idea, Rudy.

Scott Bordow, East Valley Tribune: ASU Has Its Bubble Burst
Another sad but true. ASU still has a long way to go to be half the program that USC has been since 2002.

Doug Haller, USC's Defense Serves Notice to Pac-10
Standing on the field, watching this team play their best game since winning the 2004 national title, I've never seen such a fast, intimidating defense in person in my life, pro or college. And I grew up watching Ronnie Lott and the 80's San Francisco 49ers defense.

Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times: Better Late Than Never
As Bill talked to me about after the game, that's the USC everyone is used to. They just showed up a little late to the party. 508 yards of offense on the road doesn't lie.

Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times: Booty and a Feast for Trojans
Griffen said it best: "We blew them out."

Friday, November 23, 2007

I've had a day to sit on this, and... still hurts.

Bad. Almost as bad as Rudy's bloodied and battered lower lip, which he swore wasn't bothering him after the loss last night.

It was the exact opposite of what we've saw all season: ASU played solid, inspired football in the first quarter and then laid down around the middle of the 2nd. It was disappointing, it was frustrating and it was deflating.

Last night's game proves what I've been thinking all season. While ASU has had a stellar season and is on its way to great things under coach Erickson, there is still a wide gap in program prominence between USC and ASU. It's just the way it is. USC still pulls the best recruits and the best talent from around the nation. There's a reason they're the 5-time defending Pac-10 Champions, and we saw it last night.

I had the pleasure of talking at length to Bill Platschke (of Around the Horn fame) last night, and he actually gave props to Arizona State. He said he came in not knowing what to expect from USC or ASU, but he did mention that if Southern Cal had not played "their best football game since 2005," the Sun Devils could have won the game.

I'm in the process of looking over my TiVo'ed replay of the game, and once I'm done, I'll have some analysis for you.

In the meantime, keep your heads high, Sun Devil Nation. There's still a PussyCats team to dismantle on December 1st, and a 10-win season to accomplish.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful for...

In no particular order
  • Playing the Pac-10 championship game at home
  • Not being in Tucson
  • Contract Buyouts
  • Having Ryan Torain in our backfield for as long as we did
  • Erin Andrews on the sidelines
  • 2 wins in Maui
  • Bruce Davis sucking
  • Surprises (Thomas Weber, Troy Nolan, Luis Vasquez)
  • Pedroia
  • 6 for 6 at home so far

That's what I'm thankful for going into this game...

Consider this an open thread...add your own list to the comments.

See you on the field for the post-game party.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Devils Win 2 Straight

That's more like it. ASU bounced back from a difficult opening defeat to look like the resilient bunch that we knew from last year with an added offensive punch. The difference between the loss and the wins? Aggression on the offensive end. Whether it was first game jitters or just a talented, well-coached team in Illinois that pounced on us at the tip, ASU was not attacking the basket in the first game. Against LSU, the Devils attempted 29 free throws. That doesn't happen by accident...Sendek made great adjustments and the players responded.

James Harden has emerged from a disappointing season debut to quickly establish himself as a potent scorer and someone who will take some of the pressure to score off the shoulders of Jeff Pendergraph. While we certainly lack interior depth (Boateng, please stand up), we do have some quality perimeter players. Christian Polk has been great off the bench so far and the point guards have been solid enough in the two wins. Jamelle McMillan and Derek Glasser will need to continue to limit turnovers, distribute the ball, and hit the open shot. Look for these two to improve as the season progresses and I think they will be a huge asset for us.

The problem that ASU will face, especially in the early going, will be relying on whether or not the shots are falling. Ty Abbott has gone 1-6, 5-7, and 1-6 in each of the respective 3 games from behind the 3 point line. Abbott is a streaky shooter, as is Polk, and when their shots are falling ASU will do well. The great thing about this year's team is that even when the outside shots aren't falling, Harden has the ability to get to the hole and draw fouls. This is something that was completely lacking from last year's team. I like our bench but it is easy to see how we will struggle if Pendergraph is in foul trouble and our role players can't get shots to fall. That said, I like this team and I think they'll be a lot of fun to watch this year and all of those freshmen gained some valuable experience while in Maui.

Random Thought: It's impossible not to notice the raw potential of Kraidon Woods. After seeing him play a few times, I'm praying that he can capitalize on his athleticism and become a solid player for us and not waste away like some other gifted Sun Devils I've seen over the last few years (Sylvester Seay, anyone?).

61-42 victory over Princeton

Men's basketball got back on track yesterday with a win over the Princeton Tigers in the second round of the Maui Invitational. The blog Rumors and Rants traveled to the tournament and are covering every game. Here's their assessment from them on the action:

Arizona State really showed me something in this game. Sure, Princeton isn't on the level with the competition the Sun Devils will face in the Pac-10, but I really liked the way Herb Sendek's team played. They took over in the second half behind freshman and former McDonald's All-American James Harden's 22 points, and pulled away to win 61-42. Sendek has a great group of freshmen, including Harden and Jamelle McMillan (Blazers coach Nate McMillan's son). But the frosh I really liked was Ty Abbot. The kid just has an aggressive, nasty streak that I like. At 6'3 he's a good sized guard who really wants the ball on offense and oozes confidence when he squares up to shoot.
They go on to praise Derek Glasser, talk smack to a ref, give a suggestion for Jeff Pendergraph's mom, and express their disappointment that ASU didn't bring any student section "talent." The Sun Devils take on the Big Baby-less LSU Tigers at noon today on the deuce.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday Quick Links

Thomas Weber is getting a free trip to Orlando for the Home Depot Awards.

ASU has Lil' McMillan , USC has Lil' Romeo

Someone should really get Barry Bonds a paper shredder for Christmas

Scott Bordow plays some "what if" about Dennis Erickson.

Sendek and the boys are favored by 8 1/2 against Princeton today in Maui.

Petey Paramore is getting recognized as one of the top catchers coming into the 2008 season.

Jason Simmons' promise finally came to fruition.


Well, between Illinois' repeated 3-point bombs and Jay Bilas's frequent zingers toward ASU's assembled cast of players, let's just say that the season opener didn't go so well. Bilas, known for his undying bias toward Duke, seemed like he'd had too long of a day and maybe a pina colada or two as he continually cracked jokes and barbs about ASU. The real problem though took place on the court where ASU's zone defense was often caught out of position and paid for it by spotting Illinois a 22 point lead early. The game was so bad at the early going, that ESPN2 pulled coverage briefly just 5 minutes into the game. Not much went right but at least we know that it has to get better from here. ASU next plays Princeton, who lost yesterday to Jay Bilas's adoptive sons at Duke.

Bright Spot: Christian Polk played really well. Now if we can get the other 10 guys who played yesterday to follow suit.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Waiting for Tonight

ASU officially starts its Men's Basketball season tonight at the Maui Invitational. While I'd love to give you expert words of wisdom and knowledge about how our Devils will match up against Illinois, this team is just too new to really know. To me, tonight's game feels kind of like a blind date. Okay, maybe not an actual blind date but it's like going on a date with a girl that you've seen around campus a few times that caught your attention but you don't really know much about her besides her name. You've done your research (some call it Facebook stalking) and checked out a few pictures, but those don't really count because they're not the real thing. Anyway, tonight is the big night and I'm a bit nervous. Will tonight be the beginning of a new love affair or just a disappointing cheap date? Here's hoping for the former. Check it out on ESPN2 at 9:30pm.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dennis Dixon Just Went from Amazing to Legendary

Dennis Dixon wasn't even the starting quarterback at the end of last season for the Oregon Ducks. He was berated by Mike Bellotti over the summer for playing rookie ball in the Atlanta Braves system rather than training for the 2007 season. Then, he emerged as a Heisman frontrunner and all-around ridiculous athlete as the 2007 season unfolded.

On November 3 against our Sun Devils, he got (what we thought was) a little bit banged up but still led the Ducks to a stirring 35-23 win over Arizona State, cementing the team at the time as a national championship front runner. This past Thursday, we saw Dixon lead his devastating offense over UA for about a quarter (including the TD pictured above) before he bent his knee 90 degrees.

The injury has been diagnosed as a complete tear of the ACL in his right knee.


Let that sink in for a minute. The Register-Guard's Rob Moseley, one of my favorite writers in the Pac-10, reported this weekend that Dixon tore the ligament early in the game at Autzen against the Sun Devils. He then convinced trainers to sweep the major injury under the rug and let him continue to play. They hid the injury from the public and his teammates.

He was the catalyst in the ASU win and if the knee had held up, I'm of the opinion that the Ducks would have probably put up 50 and beaten the Wildcats.

I'm sure there will be some scrutiny of the Oregon training staff from keeping the injury mum. Realistically, it's not like they were jsut covering up a sprain or a bruise or something. It was a complete tear of one of the ligaments that, you know, keeps the knee together.

But you have to admire the guts and...well...insert your own term here...that Dixon had. That's the definition of team before individual, something we don't see in sports enough anymore.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Your Saturday Viewing Guide

Wait, there's no ASU football today?

Now, you may feel some urge to do something of value to society today in the absence of a Sun Devil football game. You might feel compelled to wash the car, run errands or take the dog for a walk.

I implore you. It can wait. There's still football on this morning. And here's PN's viewing suggestions for the day.

While you prepare the morning coffee...
10:00 AM: Ohio State at Michigan (ABC)...because it's only the biggest rivalry in CFB and the winner just might meet Arizona State on January 1.
10:00 AM: Northwestern at Illinois (ESPN)...because the Illini...THOSE Illini, could win their ninth game today.
10:30 AM: Missouri at Kansas State (FSN)...because Chase Daniel...still amazing.

When you're trying to figure out how to spend your Saturday night...
12:30 PM: Duke at Notre Dame (NBC)...because there's always room for some comic relief.
1:30 PM: LSU at Mississippi (CBS)...because we need to see if the Bayou Bengals really are the #1 team in the land.
1:30 PM: California at Washington (ABC)...because it can't really get worse for the Golden Bears...can it?

While you're getting ready for a night on the town...
5:45 PM: West Virginia at Cincinnati (ESPN)...because Cincy is for real and West Virginia has national title hopes again.
5:45 PM: Boston College at Clemson (ESPN2)...because one of these underachievers actually will get to play for an ACC title.
6:00 PM: Oklahoma at Texas Tech (ABC)...because that Sam Bradford is pretty damn fun to watch.
6:00 PM: Louisville at South Florida (ESPNU)...because it was easy to forget about Brian Brohm, and they have to win to get bowl eligible.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tucson, AZ: Where BCS Dreams Go To Die

For three consecutive years now...somehow, someway...the Arizona Wildcats have had a major impact on the BCS picture.

In 2005, UCLA went to the Old Pueblo with an unscathed record and quickly fell behind by about 300 points. Last season, an Antoine Cason pick-six led to the 'Cats figuratively calling "BALL GAME" on California's BCS hopes.

Last night, it happened again. And guess who benefits?

Arizona got the benefit of an early Dennis Dixon injury (and if he plays again this season with the way his knee bent, I'll be shocked) and some amazing play from the aforementioned Cason to become the fifth team this season to beat a #2 ranked team. The moral of the story is: if you're given the #2 ranking, find out how you can give it back.

So, the question remains, what does this now do to the Sun Devils? It's fairly simple. Arizona State now controls it's own Pac-10 destiny. They're the last team in the Pac with only one loss. Wins over USC and Arizona put ASU in at least the Rose Bowl. Period.

So in a strange, flawed way, thank you, Arizona. Your team, for the first time, did something to benefit your arch-rivals, and now Pitchfork Nation is salivating about being in the driver's seat for our first Pac-10 Title since 1996.

Now it's time to keep up your good feelings toward your Sun Devil buddies going, and roll over on December 1.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Could this man resurrect another program next season?

Insert the man's name to Google images and you'll see him in pictures coaching 5 different teams just on the first page of results.

That got me thinking...there are many prestigious programs in trouble, and need a coach who can turn around a program in a hurry. Dennis Erickson could be their man, if only for a season. Mercenaries have been a hot topic in the news these days, so let us review the possible teams who could use DE's handywork.

1. Michigan - According to, Lloyd Carr is announcing his retirement after the Ohio State rivalry game. Even though the team will be losing quarterback Chad Henne and Heisman hopeful Mike Hart to graduation, the team is in great shape to make a run next year with a defense that will consist of quite a few veterans and a slew of talent on offense. Les Miles has been at LSU long enough where he could depart after the Tigers season ending loss to Oregon in the title game, heading back to his alma mater in Ann Arbor. This situation would leave a door open to another school...

2. Louisiana State - If Les Miles leaves, LSU defensive coordinator Beaux Pelini would be in a great spot to take over (he was rumored to be the front runner for the ASU job at one point in time). Even though it's not resurrecting a program, I'm sure they have a lot of loot to throw his way.

3. Nebraska - Anyone who didn't see Nebraska imploding from a mile away has a bad case of short term memory. The Raiders players were on the verge of mutiny one season after reaching the Super Bowl on the back of some future Hall of Famers and HGH abusers. Callahan is out the door at Nebraska, and is a prestigious program in need of leadership. I'm sure Athletic Director Tom Osborne will probably hire his best man Turner Gill away from Buffalo, but you never know. They also could be looking at LSU's Pelini, who filled in for Frank Solich and led Nebraska to a 17-3 victory over Michigan State in the 2003 Alamo Bowl, only to be overlooked during the coaching search in the offseason.

4. Notre Dame - Being the money making machine that Notre Dame is, they can buy out that fat contract of Charlie Weis no matter the price. Just saying, Tyrone Willingham wouldn't have a job with a 1-9 record. To Charlie's defense, they are undefeated in conference. Dennis Erickson would bring instant credibility to the program, Weis is under contract until 2015 and I assume the buyout is one of the main factors stopping any talk of letting Weis go.

Other possible coaching vacancies to fill - UCLA, Auburn, Texas A&M

Not saying that Erickson would skip out on his contractual obligations, since the potential to build Arizona State into a powerhouse seems infinite at this point. There just is the possibility he could be offered millions to go coach somewhere else.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pedro Takes Home More Honors

The news keeps getting better for former ASU shortstop, World Series champion and all around balding midget Dustin Pedroia.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America voted Pedro as the AL Rookie of the Year today in a runaway blowout. Dustin earned 24 of the 28 first place votes in the poll, beating 2nd place Devil Rays rookie Delmon Young by 76 points.

After a slow start in April, Pedroia exploded when the calendar turned to May. He hit .317 with 8 homeruns and 50 RBI, but more importantly, he had a .380 on-base percentage and an astounding .990 fielding percentage.

In a related story, in a total piece of bullcrap vote, Ryan Braun was given the NL Rookie of the Year award over Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. I'm not in any way a Rockies fan (or a Brewers fan, at that), but if you can objectively justify Braun winning the award OVER Tulo, leave a comment.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Report: Pedroia Played Playoffs with Broken Hand

Check out this link from Out in Center Field for more on the story. Incredible stuff.

Still think that Jack Elway signing is a big deal?

The Denver Post reports on Jack Elway's Cherry Creek(Colorado) Bruins losing in the second round of the state's 5A playoffs:

In addition to owning the lines and cranking out an effective running game,Grandview picked off Bruins senior Jack Elway as many times as his No. 7 jersey. Five Wolves recorded interceptions, led by Shawn Tucker's three.
For those of you asking for a reason why the son of John Elway is only a two-star recruit, you now have 7 of them. The article said a few of the interceptions were on jump balls, but that's really no excuse for 7 picks.

What They're Saying About ASU/UCLA

A trip around the web for what others are saying about yesterday's game:

-The Associated Press (via can't get over the Rudy Carpenter/UCLA connection.

-Jeff Metcalfe of the Arizona Republic waxes about how it was UCLA that should have struggled to score, not the Sun Devils. Paola Boivin uses the word "improbable" to describe...well...pretty much everything.

-Dan Zeiger of the East Valley Tribune thinks fans had a hidden meaning to their "Beat SC" chant at the end of the game. Scott Bordow also wrote a really nice piece about ASU's unsung star this season, Chris McGaha, who had the game of his career but still is allergic to the end zone.

-Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times says the inevitable was in plain view for the Bruins yesterday, while everyone's favorite Around the Horn analyst, Bill Plaschke, has penned Karl Dorrell's obituary.

-It's a little more blatant over with our friends at Bruins Nation, who have installed a countdown clock to the end of the season and the supposed end of KD's reign.

-UCLA starting QB Osaar Rasshan, PN's favorite history major, admitted to the L.A. Daily News that he was pretty sore because "it was the first time he played football in 2 1/2 years."

It was ugly, but it's win #9

Well, now wasn't that the most fun football game you've EVER watched?

If you answered yes to that question, you clearly need to watch some more football.

The fact of the matter is, the Sun Devils held on for another gutsy victory yesterday at the Rose Bowl. In a game that was reminiscent of this year's game in the Palouse, the Devils struggled to get going on offense, looked shaky on special teams and streaky on defense. However, ASU was still able to put it all together with a terribly banged up Rudy Carpenter and came out with their first victory at the Rose Bowl since 1996.

Some quick observations...
-From a kid who had to battle to the last day for his spot on the team, Thomas Weber, hands down, might be the Pac-10 Special Teams POTY as a frosh. His punting skills need some work, but that kid is money in the bank on field goals.
-Keegan Herring is the most frustrating runner I've ever seen. I keep having to explain to people that he's not a traditional downhill runner and that the only way he knows how to run is to juke and dance, but he even had me scratching my head with what he was doing yesterday.
-But then, Keegs rattled off that game-breaking run, which made me forgive him...for now.
-I'm very curious to why Dmitri Nance only got the ball 12 times yesterday. In the first half, it was clear that Keegan was having trouble going around the edge (the O-Line was too busy not blocking for Rudy again, apparently). When you've got Nance, the better runner between the tackles, standing on the sideline, and your best option is to run between the tackles, it would have made more sense to me to have Nance in the backfield.
-Sometime in the third quarter, UCLA's defense started gunning specifically for Rudy's throwing thumb. There were several plays where you could tell that the first Bruin to Carpenter would swipe directly to his right hand, and on the play Rudy really reinjured the thumb, the defenders arm swung intently toward his throwing hand.
-The stat that made the difference yesterday: UCLA was 3 of 15 on third down, stopping several drives right in their tracks. Five of those unconverted 3rd downs were in ASU territory, and two of them left the Bruins with just three points rather than touchdowns. That's a net loss of a key eight points.
-Bruce Davis had a terrible game. He made mental mistakes throughout the contest (see: PF call that led to Weber's 53-yard field goal) and the double team shut him down all day.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Your Saturday Game Plan

Well, for those of you (like myself) that stayed behind in beautiful Tempe, you've got a lot on the docket for tomorrow's day of NCAA Football.

This is my first year without a trip to SoCal since my freshman year, but I'm saving my money for another trip which should take place in the next seven weeks or so.

In the meantime, here's your Pitchfork Nation recommended viewing for November 10, if you want to be like us here at PN and be a well-rounded, educated college football fan.

While preparing your morning coffee or laying in bed after a long Friday should check out:
10 AM: #12 Michigan at Wisconsin (ESPN)...because Appalachian State's beyotch actually hasn't lost since September 8.
10 AM: Wake Forest at #21 Clemson (ESPN2)...because the ACC is so might make this game look interesting.
10:30 AM: Texas A&M at #6 Missouri (FSN)...because Chase Daniel is the best quarterback you've never watched.

Of course, you'll be watching:
1:30 PM: #9 Arizona State at UCLA (ABC)
...because you'd better.

But you should also set up a TV at the same time and keep an eye on:
1:30 PM: #18 Auburn at #10 Georgia (CBS)...
because it's another one of those SEC games of the year.
1:30 PM: Illinois at #1 Ohio State (ESPN)...because I still can't figure out if the Buckeyes are for real!
1:30 PM: #13 Connecticut at Cincinnati (ESPNU)...because seriously, if UConn wins the Big East...the world might explode.

Once the Sun Devil game is over and you're getting ready for a night on Mill..keep an eye on:
5:45 PM: #15 Florida at South Carolina (ESPN)...because it's "Head Ball Coach" heading back to The Swamp.
6:00 PM: #17 USC at California (ABC)...because it's determining which of these fine programs goes to the Sun Bowl.

If you're a sucker for nostalgia, make sure to watch:
5:15 PM: #19 Virginia at Miami (ESPN2)...because I'm sure will include enough old highlights of the soon-to-be-demolished Orange Bowl to induce vomiting.

And if you've seriously got nothing else to do, there's always:
9:00 PM: Fresno State at #16 Hawai'i (ESPN2)...because even Colt Brennan knows he's not a Heisman candidate.

So there you have it, a full menu of college football for your lazy Saturday. Enjoy it and kick back a brew for your friends at Pitchfork Nation. We'll be back after the game tomorrow with instant analysis.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Basketball Update

The Sun Devils picked up another exhibition win on Wednesday night with a 91-71 win over Western New Mexico. Eric Boateng was missing from the lineup with a minor foot injury but should be back for the ASU's season opener in the Maui Invitational. James Harden once again led the Devils with 21 points and 8 boards, including 9-of-11 shooting.

While any success in cupcake exhibition games must be taken with a grain of salt, it is worth noting that ASU's offense looks particularly improved and the defense has produced double digit turnovers in each game. With perennial powers like Michigan State and Kentucky going down in the preseason to relatively unknown programs, it is nice to see ASU taking care of business. One thing that the Devils must improve quickly and drastically is free throw shooting. The team shot 51.4% from the foul line against Grand Canyon University and 54.2% against Western New Mexico. These numbers must go up if we want to have a chance against quality opponents.

ASU's real season begins on Monday, November 19 against Illinois in the Maui Invitational. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

Of Note: Jeff Pendergraph was named as one of the top 50 preseason candidates for the Wooden Award, college basketball's top individual award. 10 of the top 50 are from the incredibly deep Pac-10. For the entire list:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Hump Day Quick Hits

A few news and notes to pass along from various media outlets to get you through your Wednesday...and if you're struggling...just keep telling yourself there are only 3 1/2 more days until your latest fix of Sun Devil football.

From the Arizona Republic on the Arizona State front:

-DE Dane Guthrie was held out of practice yesterday and may not be available for Saturday's game. He suffered a concussion against Oregon in spot duty behind Luis Vasquez. This slides Kellen Mills most likely into the backup role, but with Vasquez playing well recently, this shouldn't make a giant impact.
-The team has been juggling its O-Line personnel with Zach Krula ruled out for the UCLA game (knee) and Paul Fanaika not participating in practice Tuesday (ankle). Look for Shaun Lauvao to get regular playing time Saturday at LG. Richard Tuitu'u has been spending time at guard to help fill the void.
-Speaking of Fanaika, don't forget that his sister Lavinia and the rest of the women's basketball season is beginning tomorrow with an exhibition against the US National Team at Wells Fargo Arena.
-Mike Nixon may get the start over Travis Goethel at the OLB spot opposite Robert James against the Bruins after a strong game in Oregon. This is no surprise; Goethel has struggled this season and Nixon's tackling skills in the open field have improved dramatically.
-Jeremy Payton has improved, but is still out for Saturday. He's expected back for the USC game on Thanksgiving.

From the Los Angeles Times and L.A. Daily News for an update on UCLA:
-Sophomore Oscar Rasshan will get the start at QB against the Sun Devils with Patrick Cowan (collapsed lung) and Ben Olsen (knee) out. In fact, Cowan just arrived back in LA yesterday after spending several days at a Tucson hospital. Rasshan is a converted wide receiver who did not play a down last season as a redshirt freshman. He has played in three games this year, completing three passes for 82 yards. And for the record, he's a history major.
-Look for the UCLA offense to be drastically simplified this week as the team's fourth string QB takes over the reins. Oh, and no pressure Mr. Rasshan, you're only being counted on to save your coaches jobs.
-They're banged up, period. I know UA actually looked like a competent football team last week, but it was helped in part by the fact that I'm fairly sure UCLA was trotting out freshmen that they found sleeping in dorms that morning.
-This week in practice so far, LB Reggie Carter was carted off and starting RB Chris Markey sat out an entire day of drills. On Markey, he says his toe and ankle are bothering him but he was sitting out mainly to give other guys necessary reps. Well, with Khalil Bell out for the season and UCLA still in position (somehow) to get to a decent bowl game, don't you think you'd want your starter in there taking ALL the reps with the first team?
-Then again, Karl Dorrell is still their head coach, so nothing about UCLA surprises me anymore. Chane Moline (who?) and Craig Sheppard (who^2?) took the reps at tailback in practice. Surprising that we haven't heard Dorrell frantically placing calls to Maurice Jones-Drew and the NCAA trying to find out if he had any years of eligibility left.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

One Facebook Group You Need to Join

Justice for Ryan Till and Garrett Bledsoe


A horrible tragedy happened to two of my best friends, the court system has not
done anything about this matter and is going to let it go unpunished without
your help! If enough signatures are obtained we can have this case reviewed by a
Grand Jury. This is extremely important to me, please tell everyone you know to
sign this online petition.You can go to the website and read the details of what
happened that night. It takes less than a minute to sign. - By Cody Faeth

Even if you don't have facebook, support your fellow Sun Devils and sign the petition.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

For those who prefer Mike Patrick over Juan Roque

Here's the 12 minute ESPN broadcast of the game. Enjoy.

New BCS Standings: 11/4/07

Ohio State retains #1, while LSU is bumped up to #2 with their win over Alabama.

Oregon assumes the number 3 spot with their win over Arizona State, while Kansas surprisingly takes the 4 hole after destroying the Sam Keller-less Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Arizona State dropped only five spots to #9. The Sun Devils dropped to #9 in both human polls as well but are still a #5 computer average.

Boston College, after their loss to unranked Florida State, drops six spots in the BCS to #8.

So, to recap, here's the top 10 in the new 11/4/07 BCS, with previous rank in parenthesis:
1: Ohio State .9949 (1)
2: Louisiana State .9411 (3)
3: Oregon .9180 (5)
4: Kansas .8431 (8)
5: Oklahoma .8393 (6)
6: Missouri .7431 (9)
7: West Virginia .7419 (7)
8: Boston College .6980 (2)
9: Arizona State .6932 (4)
10: Georgia .6075 (10)

The rest of the standings shake down as follows:
11) Virginia Tech, 12) Michigan, 13) Connecticut, 14) Texas, 15) Florida, 16) Hawai'i, 17) USC, 18) Auburn, 19) Virginia, 20) Boise State, 21) Clemson, 22) Alabama, 23) Penn State, 24) Tennessee, 25) Kentucky

BREAKING: Lute Olson taking leave

BREAKING NEWS FROM DOWN SOUTH: Lute Olson is leaving the Arizona Wildcats Men's Basketball team indefinitely. Not making this one up. No word on who is replacing him, but I'm guessing it's going to be 1997 Most Outstanding Player from the NCAA Tournament Miles Simon. We'll have a recap of his 12:30 press conference on here later.

According to the poll conducted by PitchforkNation this week, 19% of you are wrong about what the football team's final record will be. Still, that means 81% of you are not wrong. I'll put up a new poll in a few days.

If you get bored today with the NFL, check out what the EV Tribune put together about the safety of Sun Devil Stadium.

UPDATED 1:02 PM by Justin: Taking Olsen's place on the bench will be assistant coach Kevin O'Neill, who joined the program this season after spending time coaching with the Toronto Raptors.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Thoughts from Saturday

  • I'm grabbing Jaison Williams off the waiver wire early next year in fantasy football.
    • I could say the same thing about Mike Jones in another year.
  • Lou Dobbs is going to do a "Broken Borders" special on our offensive line this week. That was embarrassing.
  • If Rudy Carpenter plays another year in Maroon and Gold, he better take out an insurance policy on himself like Willis McGahee and Michael Bush did. Seriously. After that performance by the O-Line, I wouldn't blame him for declaring early, even if it means getting picked on Day 2.
  • Thomas Weber was bound to hook one with the form he uses kicking the ball.
  • I miss Ryan Torain
  • Did not expect Brent Miller to come up big. Good job man.
  • Tyrice Thompson has come up with some big receptions this year...that one just didn't go our way.
  • Dennis Dixon is your Heisman winner if he can come back healthy.
  • 2 for 13 on 3rd down is not going to get it done the rest of the way.
  • Main reason I don't want this team to struggle against UCLA...I just don't want to hear it from U of A fans. Plus, I remember how much it sucks to have a lame duck coach...if the Sun Devils destroy them Dorrell could be fired immediately, which would be more of a gift to UCLA fans than anything.

Time to Regroup

Well, the undefeated dream is over. We're now all left to wonder what could have been had the Sun Devils emerged from Eugene victorious, but the Nation recognizes just how difficult it is for a team to go 12-0 in this day and age of NCAA Football, especially with the parity we've seen in the Pac-10 this season.

Arizona State lost to and was outplayed by, frankly, a better team. And we all knew it going in. Oregon has, without a doubt, one of the most amazing offenses I have ever seen. I lost track of how many times I turned to a friend today and said, "You just can't stop that!"

Oregon is a hard-playing, fast-moving and, most importantly, very disciplined team. ASU learned that for the third consecutive season today. I wish best of luck to the Ducks for the rest of the season and our friends over at Addicted to Quack because I now would LOVE to see Oregon take on all-comers in the National Championship.

A few observations:
1) While it seemed like there were no physical ill effects of Rudy Carpenter's sprained thumb, you could see it was messing with his head. He was sacked nine times, and I counted at least six of them in which he curled up to protect the injured hand. Otherwise, Rudy had a very fine game. You can't argue with his two touchdown passes and over 370 yards.
2) Remember a few weeks ago when I said on this blog that losing Ryan Torain wasn't the deal-breaker for ASU? I still stand by that statement. They might have probably still lost with the Train in the backfield, but he certainly would have made some sort of difference tonight between the tackles.
3) I really do think Arizona State played a good football game today. While the final score read 35-23, the Sun Devils were in it. Don't lose sight of the fact that the game was still 21-13 at the half, and the team was showing all signs of their usual post-1st quarter domination. The only difference is...well...the Devils were not going to hold Oregon scoreless in the 2nd half.
4) I said today that the winner of the turnover battle would win this game. The Devils turned the ball over twice in pivotal moments where they could have scored points, and that was your ball game.
5) If you don't think Dennis Dixon is a Heisman front-runner, you might as well not be watching American football.

More detailed analysis to come later this week, along with a preview of UCLA, who looked like Karl Dorrell-style trailer trash down in the Old Pueblo today.

That Other ASU Game Today

The Men's Basketball team tipped off today for an exhibition against Grand Canyon University and put up a solid win with a final score of 80-53. The exhibition offered fans a free look at Herb Sendek's new roster which features seven newcomers. Sendek started a young lineup of 3 freshmen, a sophomore, and a junior. The starting lineup of Jamelle McMillan, James Harden, Ty Abbott, Eric Boateng, and Jeff Pendergraph gave us a glimpse of the talent that we will see in Wells Fargo Arena this season, but this lineup was quickly dismantled within the first 5 minutes of the game. Sendek made 4 substitutions, leaving only Pendergraph, and showed a bit of the depth that this year's Sun Devils will enjoy. This substitution was the first of many as Sendek trotted out at least 15 different lineups by my count. Last year, the Devils had a rotation of basically 7 players. In today's game, Sendek played 11 different players -- 10 in the first 8 minutes. This is to be expected in the first exhibition of the season as Sendek wants to see which lineups are most effective.

The excitement surrounding the team's newcomers is warranted as they showed flashes today of a bright future. The most noticeable difference between this year's starting guards and last year's is the ability to create shots before the shot clock is nearing zero. Harden led the team with 19 points and 9 rebounds and showed his ability to get to the rim with extreme ease as he continually slashed into the lane. He also showed his ability to draw contact and repeatedly get to the foul line, shooting 16 free throws. The only problem with his strength in getting to the line was his inability to convert the free throws. This is a problem that Harden will need to remedy as his ability to get to the foul line could mean the difference between wins and losses in all of those close Pac-10 games.

Much of the Sun Devil scoring came from the backcourt as McMillan and Abbott showed an affinity for the 3-pointer as McMillan hit two early treys and Abbott hit a couple more with his lightning-quick release. McMillan and Abbott combined for 17 points and 5 three pointers. The duo also had 3 steals each, contributing to ASU's 15 steals for the afternoon. Pendergraph and Boateng didn't show much offense today but did both display their shot blocking ability and how strong the help side defense can be when both are in the lineup together.

Things to work on: The defense is still susceptible to the 3-pointer as Sendek ran a 2-3 zone for most of the game, which left GCU's outside shooters open. Just about everyone struggled to finish inside as the Devils were repeatedly turned away near the rim. This team will improve greatly as the season progresses since many of the inconsistencies in today's game will lessen as the team gets more comfortable playing together.

Play of the Game: Freshman Kraidon Woods throwing down a monster dunk over a defender for the And-1 with 30 seconds left in the game.

Next Game: Wednesday, November 7 at 7:00pm vs. Western New Mexico

All of a sudden, U of A doesn't look completely atrocious.

Hopefully it's just because they're playing a leaderless UCLA team.

27-14 Arizona, 6 minutes left in the first half.

Not to say I'm scared that U of A has a chance against us this year, but they finally have a heartbeat.

Little over an hour and a half until kickoff in Eugene. Go Devils.