Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Will this be the year for ASU?
In the preseason coaches poll (the USA Today Poll), ASU was 26th - meaning they just missed actually getting their name on the Top 25 list, instead, getting the "others receiving votes" asterisk.
In the ESPNU Fan Rankings, ASU ranked 25th! But I don't put much stock in fan rankings and I chalk this up to ASU just being a big school with a lot of students/fans.
But in the ESPN Power Rankings, ASU comes in at 21!
ASU was only 6-6 last year, but that included a few really (no, really) close games against Wisconsin, Oregon, and USC. I think a lot of the hype about the team this year is a hope that since they're returning a lot of starters (something like 11 on offense and 7 or 8 on defense), that they'll be able to win those close games this year. All of those "well yeah, but if only..." games.
Another high point is Junior linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict has shown amazing play-making ability in his 2 years in the league. I still remember how he single-handedly kept Georgia out of the endzone at the end of a close game (in what was only his 3rd game of college football), stuffing them at the goalline play after play. But he's also been a consistent source of penalty yards for the Sun Devils. Rumor is he's "matured", but to be truthful, I'll believe it when I see it.
I was a big fan of all-conference corner Omar Bolden, but he's out for the season with an ACL injury. ASU's pass defense was terrible last year with Bolden - I'm not optimistic about it without him.
Also, with the addition of Utah, and Colorado, and the splitting of the now Pac12 into two divisions, ASU won't play Stanford (best quarterback in the league) or Washington this year. While Washington is insignificant (unless they prove themselves otherwise), not having to play against Andrew Luck is certainly good for our pass defense.
When you add everything up, the good and the bad, I'm confident ASU will pull off a winning season for the first time since 2007 (they were good that year). And if all else fails, at least they'll look good in their sleek new uni's: