I honestly thought long and hard yesterday about where we were last season at this time and the kind of injuries ASU was battling, and the only two major ones I could remember were Tranell Morant (who never played a down for ASU because of injuries) and DT Saia Falahola's pesky elbow.
And now that August 30 is fast approaching, the volume of banged up Sun Devils is getting out of hand, and now Dennis Erickson is even acknowledging that it's starting to slow down the offense.
The Devils' top two receiving targets, Michael Jones and Chris McGaha, are battling concussion symptoms and a bum toe, respectively. You've got Keegan Herring, with his "nagging" shoulder problems, rushing for -5 yards at the scrimmage this past Saturday but at least getting into the end zone. Thomas Altieri is still hampered by his concussion and Garth Gerhart has not proved himself to be worthy of a starting spot in his absence.
With his targets depleted, Rudy Carpenter only led the offense to one touchdown in four drives. Kyle Williams and Kerry Taylor are battling admirably for the 3rd spot WR spot (sounds a little like another Valley football team...), but it's tough to judge their progress with Jones and McGaha on the sidelines. You want your receiving corps to be on the same page when game action comes along, and that's not happening right now.
There's no fault to be given here; injuries will happen and sometimes they happen in bunches. But it just seems that there is a new injury or new setback every day and it's starting to expose a possibly disturbing lack of depth for ASU. They're already green and inexperienced throughout the offensive line and I worry that another injury to someone like Paul Fanaika or Shaun Lauvao will leave Carpenter and the slough of talented running backs completely exposed.
And who is going to play tight end? I've heard about nor seen anyone who wants to grasp this job and it's definitely frustrating on the precedent that ASU has arguably fielded the most talented crop of TE in the Pac-10 over the past seven seasons.
I also feel like the whole "defense being ahead of the offense at this point in camp" idea is a farce. If the offense is banged up and is struggling, it's banged up and struggling. It has nothing to do with how the defense performs, which so far in camp has been tremendous. There's still questions about who will start opposite of Omar Bolden (Carr or Singfield) but Dexter Davis has looked strong as have the returning starters at linebacker. But what if someone in the main group of LB (Goethel, Munns, Nixon, Wooten) goes down? Are we ready to let Derrall Anderson, Chad Lindsey or a woefully inexperienced Ryan McFoy take the reins?
I hate to be the guy that throws around the "what ifs," especially in this case when the team were talking about is our beloved Sun Devils. But with this trend continuing, it's almost as if there's no choice.
Photo Credit: The Arizona Republic