Midseason review: Arizona State

October, 20, 2009
10/20/09
12:41
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller


Arizona State's season gone about as expected, which is unexpected for any Pac-10 team.

The Sun Devils defense was supposed to be good and is. The offense was supposed to struggle and has. Many figured there would be a quarterback controversy, and many were correct.

Looking at the schedule in the preseason, 4-2 looked about right for where ASU would be six games in. And -- lookie here! -- 4-2 it is.

Idaho State and Louisiana-Monroe were no match, but it boded well that the Sun Devils didn't mess around proving that perception.

They lost a nail-biter at Georgia 20-17, but probably gained some confidence after proving they were a physical match for a rebuilding Bulldogs squad.

That confidence didn't translate well, however, in a 28-17 loss to Oregon State, the Beavers first win in Tempe since 1969. Fans, unhappy with the offense and quarterback Danny Sullivan, started chanting "We want Brock" late in the second quarter, hoping that Dennis Erickson would insert true freshman Brock Osweiler.

The chants weren't fair that day. Sullivan passed for 338 yards with a TD and interception.

They would have been more understandable when he tossed three picks at Washington State in a sloppy road win.

But Sullivan probably bought some time with his winning performance against Washington. Sure, it was uneven, but he completed 21 of 35 for 263 yards and his lone touchdown was a 50-yard, game-winning heave in the waning moments.

Offensive MVP: Team captain Shawn Lauvao has been the anchor on the Sun Devils offensive line, which has played fairly well despite numerous injuries. The senior left tackle has helped protect Sun Devil QBs, who have been sacked just 10 times, fifth-best in the conference. The offense has averaged 144 rushing yards per game with 11 touchdowns. Last year, the Sun Devils averaged 89 yards rushing and scored seven touchdowns on the ground.

Defensive MVP: True freshman linebacker Vontaze Burfict has lived up to his recruiting hype. He ranks second on the team with 30 tackles, despite only starting the past three games, and has five tackles for a loss, two sacks and three pass break-ups. At Georgia, he posted a highlight-reel tackle on fourth and inches that seemed to even impress the crowd at Sanford Stadium. Burfict would be nearly perfect if he played with more maturity -- see three first-half personal foul flags against Washington.

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