Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Midseason report: Arizona State
By ESPN.com staff
Arizona State Sun Devils
Record: 3-3, 1-2
If Arizona State gets out of its own way, it might make a bowl game. After winning two easy games against FCS foes, the Sun Devils nearly won at Wisconsin (should have won, really). Then they challenged Oregon until succumbing 42-31. Those defeats suggested the Sun Devils could play with anyone. The new spread offense was moving the ball, and the defense again seemed salty.
The question, particularly after a 3-point loss at Oregon State, was could they actually win a game instead of just play good teams close.
Well, they did just that at Washington last weekend, 22-14. It was a solid, mostly restrained performance. Does that suggest the program has turned the corner for Dennis Erickson? We shall see.
Offensive MVP: We don't normally give this to a coach, but offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone seems to have made the most difference on the Sun Devils offense, at least more than any one individual player. Last year, the Sun Devils averaged 22.3 points and 334 yards per game. This year, they are averaging 32.8 points and 455.2 yards per game. That's a huge difference.
Defensive MVP: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict leads the Sun Devils with 45 tackles -- 16 more than anyone else -- and 5.5 tackles for a loss. He's one of the most talented linebackers in the country. It would greatly benefit him and his team if he showed more self-control in terms of personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Maybe he learned his lesson by sitting out the early going against Washington. Regardless, he's the Sun Devils best player.