Pac-12: Dimitri Nance

Preseason position reviews: running back

July, 22, 2010
Another year, another strong collection of running backs, even with the departures of Toby Gerhart and Jahvid Best.

While Pac-10 quarterbacks will grab most of the preseason headlines -- that's what happens when the two best NFL prospects at the position play in the same conference -- the class of running backs is nearly as strong.

Three 1,00o-yard rushers are back, and that doesn't include California's Shane Vereen, who piled up 952 yards as a backup, nor does it including Arizona's Nic Grigsby, who rushed for 1,153 yards in 2008. Six of the top-nine running backs will return this fall, and more than a few teams are decidedly deep at the position.

By the way, you might note there is more mention of incoming freshman at this position than others. Two reasons: 1. The Pac-1o had a strong haul of RBs in recruiting; and, 2. RB is often the easiest place for a young player to break into the lineup.

Great shape

  • Oregon: While the Pac-10 blog rates Oregon State's Jacquizz Rodgers ahead of LaMichael James as an individual player, the Ducks have a decided edge in depth, and not only because James' backup, Kenjon Barner, is one of the conference's most explosive players. The incoming recruiting class also features Lache Seastrunk and Dontae Williams, the No. 6 and No. 13 prep running backs in the nation in 2009.
  • [+] EnlargeJacquizz Rodgers
    Rick Scuteri/US PresswireJacquizz Rodgers may be the most talented individual running back in the Pac-10 this year, but Oregon has the best group.
  • Oregon State: Jacquizz Rodgers is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate as the most complete back in the conference. Depth behind him is a little iffy, though Ryan McCants turned in some of his best work during spring practices.
  • Washington: Washington fans often note that Chris Polk gained most of his 1,113 yards last year after contact because he was running behind a young offensive line. That line, with four starters back, should be better in 2010. Good depth with Johri Fogerson and freshmen Deontae Cooper and Jesse Callier, who both participated in spring drills.
  • California: As noted above, Vereen put up impressive numbers as a backup and then starter over the final four games after Best got hurt. 12 TDs on 183 carries shows he has a nose for the endzone. Depth behind him is uncertain. Trajuan Briggs, Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, Isi Sofele and Dasarte Yarnway are competing for backup touches.
  • USC: Allen Bradford, a neglected talent under Pete Carroll, who was oddly in love with the mercurial Joe McKnight, could end up being a first-team All-Pac-10 back. C.J. Gable also will have a chance to emerge from Carroll's doghouse. True freshman Dillon Baxter was the star of spring practices, while Curtis McNeal and Marc Tyler are major talents who just need to stay healthy.
  • Arizona: The Wildcats welcome back their top three running backs: Grigsby, Keola Antolin and Greg Nwoko. But Grigsby, who averaged 7.2 yards per carry last year when he wasn't hurt, needs to find a way to stay healthy.
Good shape
We'll see

  • Stanford: The Cardinal doesn't have one guy who can replace Gerhart. But who does? The good news for a backfield-by-committee approach with Jeremy Stewart, Tyler Gaffney, Stepfan Taylor and freshman Usua Amanam in the mix is the offensive line in front of them should be outstanding.
  • Arizona State: The Sun Devils must replace leading rusher Dimitri Nance, who didn't exactly scare opposing defenses in 2009. Cameron Marshall is the leading returning rusher with 280 yards. James Morrison and Jamal Miles will provide depth, though an incoming freshman might get into the mix. As has been the case for a while with the Sun Devils, the first order is improving the offensive line.
  • Washington State: Leading 2009 rusher Dwight Tardy is gone. If James Montgomery is healthy -- and stays that way -- he gives the Cougars a quality runner. He was clearly the best guy last preseason before he got hurt. Logwone Mitz, Chantz Staden, Carl Winston and Marcus Richmond will compete for touches during fall camp. Whatever the pecking order, the offensive line is the biggest issue.

Arizona State spring wrap

May, 7, 2010
Arizona State

2009 overall record: 4-8

2009 conference record: 2-7 (ninth)

Returning starters

Offense: 3, Defense: 4, punter/kicker: 2

Top returners: K Thomas Weber, DT Lawrence Guy, LB Vontaze Burfict, DE James Brooks

Key losses: WR Kyle Williams, WR Chris McGaha, RB Dimitri Nance, OT Shawn Lauvao, DE Dexter Davis, LB Travis Goethel, LB Mike Nixon

2009 statistical leaders (*returning starter)

Rushing: Dimitri Nance (795)
Passing: Danny Sullivan (1,939)
Receiving: Kyle Williams (815)
Tackles: Mike Nixon (73)
Sacks: Lawrence Guy* (4.5)
Interceptions: Mike Nixon, Jarrell Holman, Ryan McFoy (3)

Spring Answers

1. Help at receiver: Even though the Sun Devils lost their top two receivers, Kyle Williams and Chris McGaha, the position appears fairly solid, particularly with Oregon transfer Aaron Pflugrad, who would have started for the Ducks in 2009, and JC transfer George Bell performing well this spring.

2. Em-Bolden: Cornerback Omar Bolden looked like the budding star he was supposed to be as a true freshman, but he struggled mightily as a sophomore and then missed 2009 with a knee injury. Entering spring, there were questions about whether he could regain a starting spot. No longer. Bolden may have turned in his best work yet this spring and should be a leader in the secondary.

3. For the defense: The Sun Devils lost seven starters from their outstanding 2009 defense, but they may be even better this fall. There's lots of speed and young players who excelled in 2009, most particularly linebacker Vontaze Burfict, had a year of seasoning in which to mature and refine their game.

Fall questions

1. Who's the QB? Before spring, many expected Michigan transfer Steven Threet to win the job. At the end of spring, sophomore Brock Osweiler instead emerged as the leader. In the fall, Samson Szakacsy rejoins the competition after sitting out spring drills, hopefully with a healthy arm. All three are capable, so there may be a few more plot twists before this one is resolved.

2. What about the O-line (again!)? The Sun Devils were already replacing two starters on the O-line when veteran guard Jon Hargis injured his knee, ending his 2010 season before it began, so there are lots of questions. For instance, will Zach Schlink and Matt Hustad be available? Both are talented but have been riddled with knee problems. And: Are JC transfer Brice Schwab and redshirt freshman Evan Finkenberg ready for Pac-10 play? Both are slated to start at tackle. It doesn't matter who plays QB if the O-line can't get the job done.

3. What about maturity? Sure, there's loads of talent on defense, but look at the sorts of guys who graduated: end Dexter Davis and linebackers Mike Nixon and Travis Goethel. Each were smart, savvy players and strong locker room guys. In other words, leaders. It's unclear who will fill their shoes. Even with those guys, the Sun Devils had over 1,000 yards in penalties last year -- 200 more than any other conference team. Smarter, more disciplined play might make a difference in close games.

Strong & weak: Arizona State

March, 3, 2010
The third of a 10-part series that looks at where Pac-10 teams are strongest and weakest as they begin spring practices.

Arizona State

Strong: Defensive front seven

Why it's a strength: The Sun Devils take some significant hits on defense, losing seven starters, including five of their top six tacklers, but the young talent coming back is impressive, particularly up front. Start with the defensive line. Sure, end Dexter Davis is gone, but he's the only departure on the three-deep. And here's a guess that tackles Lawrence Guy, William Sutton and Corey Adams take a step forward in 2010. Linebackers Mike Nixon and Travis Goethel must be replaced, but rising star Vontaze Burfict returns inside and Gerald Munns, Brandon McGee and Shelly Lyons have experience. Count on this: The Sun Devils, owners of the conference's No. 1 rush defense in 2009, won't be easy to run against again next fall.

Weak: Offense

Why it's a weakness: It will not be a pattern of this feature to indict an entire side of the ball, but the Sun Devils have huge issues on offense for a third consecutive season. Last year, they ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring and ninth in total offense. And only four starters are back this spring. Ouch. Skill positions? There's uncertainty at quarterback. The top two receivers are gone, as is starting tailback Dimitri Nance. The line? Three starters need to be replaced, including the unit's leader in 2009, tackle Shawn Lauvao. Answers may be found this spring. Steven Threet and Brock Osweiler will battle at quarterback, while Oregon transfer Aaron Pflugrad will immediately bolster the receiving corps. Injuries the past two seasons mean lots of returning guys on the line have experience. And there are plenty of choices at tailback. Still, there's a lot of uncertainty here.

Arizona State is fighting back

November, 28, 2009
Arizona State found some offense in the third quarter, but Arizona leads 14-3 heading into the fourth quarter.

Do the Sun Devils have 12 points in them? Based on what we've seen thus far, the answer is no.

But running back Dimitri Nance found some holes in the Wildcats defense in the third -- 50 of his 72 yards came in the quarter.

Arizona led Oregon by 10 in the fourth and lost in double overtime, but that was a completely different offense. The Sun Devils will be forced to throw in the fourth, and that raises a question that has riddled them all season: Can they get good quarterback play?

It appears this is senior Danny Sullivan's game to win or lose. He entered in the second quarter and will be the quarterback of record in the final football game of his career.

Sullivan is a stand-up guy. He got his big moment this season when a late bomb beat Washington.

Does he have some magic left?

Halftime: Arizona 14, Arizona State 0

November, 28, 2009
Arizona State's defense is doing its part, but, boy, the Sun Devils' offense looks terrible.

Arizona, which seems to have bounced back well from last week's double-overtime loss to Oregon, leads 14-0 at the break, and 14 points feels like a huge lead in this one.

The Sun Devils have 78 total yards, and 44 of that came on a single pass play on their opening drive.

Samson Szakacsy started at quarterback, but Dennis Erickson inserted senior Danny Sullivan in the middle of the second quarter. It didn't help.

How are things going for the Sun Devils?

Erickson, trying to spark his team, went for a fourth-and-1 from his own 29-yard line. Wow.

And his anemic offense converted with a Dimitri Nance run.

And then they didn't do anything. On fourth-and-6, they tried to punt, but Arizona's Orlando Vargas blocked the punt and returned it 23 yards for a TD and a 14-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Arizona's defense is in complete control, which is making it easy for an uneven offense.

If the Wildcats hold on, this will be a big win for the program, which was in the dumps last week. It proves Mike Stoops' program is resilient, and it also keeps hopes alive for a second-place finish in the Pac-10.

Szakacsy bounces back for ASU after slow start

November, 21, 2009
The early return on Samson Szakacsy as Arizona State's starting quarterback: He's mentally tough.

His second pass against UCLA went for a 68-yard pick-six to Alterraun Verner and he was sacked by Brian Price during a three-and-out possession on his second go-round.

But, instead of wilting on the road, the sophomore then led an 80-yard touchdown drive -- with an assist from tailback Dimitri Nance -- which he capped with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Williams.

Still, the Bruins finally got their offense on track with a 73-yard field goal drive and they lead the Sun Devils 10-7 in a huge game for both teams' bowl hopes.

Pac-10 lunch links: Cal still figuring out where it stands

October, 28, 2009
Posted by's Ted Miller

Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision, he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath. "The horror! The horror!"
  • Top five reasons Arizona is ranked. Quarterback Nick Foles is still sick. Sick-sick, not, "Dude! Foles is sick, man!"
  • With Arizona State's leading rusher Dimitri Nance nursing a bum shoulder, Ryan Bass might get his shot at running back. Danny Sullivan will start at quarterback against California.
  • Will California's run game continue to roll at Arizona State? Cal still doesn't know where it stands in the Pac-10 pecking order.
  • Didn't Oregon and USC do this in 2007? It's deja vu for the Ducks and Trojans.
  • Oregon State is happy with the Pac-10 taking swift action against a bad call. Jacquizz Rodgers is the best player in the Pac-10.
  • Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh likes his quarterback, Andrew Luck. Some bad news for hard-luck lineman Allen Smith.
  • UCLA will use two QBs against Oregon State.
  • USC freshman QB Matt Barkley claims he doesn't spook easily, even on Halloween night amid a "blackout" at Autzen Stadium. USC thrives in big games.
  • Washington linebacker E.J. Savannah can't catch a break -- or, at least, one that doesn't happen inside his hand.
  • Washington State is rarely on TV, and that costs the Cougars. That's a big reason playing Notre Dame in San Antonio is necessary.
  • Interesting note from Chris Dufresne: "The Pac-10 and Southeastern conferences are battling for the title of nation's top conference. The SEC is No. 1 in four of the six Bowl Championship Series computers: Billingsley, Colley, Massey and Wolfe, and No. 2 in Sagarin and Anderson/Hester. The Pac-10 is No. 1 in Sagarin and Anderson/Hester and No. 2 in the other four."

Pac-10 players of the week

September, 28, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

Oregon senior tight end Ed Dickson, Arizona senior cornerback Devin Ross and Stanford sophomore kick returner Chris Owusu are the Pac-10 Players of the Week.

Dickson caught a career-high 11 receptions for 148 yards and three touchdowns, which covered 26, 9 and 36 yards in Oregon’s 42-3 win over sixth-ranked California. He also was named National Offensive Player of the Week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Ross had a game-high 12 tackles -- seven solo -- and picked off a pass in the waning moments to seal the Wildcats’ 37-32 win at Oregon State.

Owusu returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown in Stanford’s 34-14 win against Washington. It marked the second week in a row Owusu returned the game’s opening kickoff for a touchdown. In just four games, Owusu has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns, which ties the Pac-10 single season record (Anthony Davis, USC, 1974, and Matthew Slater, UCLA, 2007). Owusu leads the nation in kickoff returns with a flashy 59.2-yard average.

Also nominated for offensive player of the week honors were quarterback Nick Foles of Arizona, wide receiver Damian Williams of USC and running backs Toby Gerhart of Stanford and Dimitri Nance of Arizona State. Also nominated on defense were linebackers Clinton Snyder of Stanford and Michael Morgan of USC, safety Jarrell Holman of Arizona State and end Kenny Rowe of Oregon. Also nominated for special teams play were punters Keenyn Crier of Arizona and Jacob Harfman of USC and kicker Morgan Flint of Oregon.

A look back at 2006 recruiting classes

July, 20, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

The 2006 recruiting class members are either seniors or redshirt juniors this fall, so they should be the backbones of most Pac-10 team's starting lineups.

Therefore, it seems like a reasonable moment to look back and review some recruiting hits and misses.

In the big picture, USC ranked No. 2 in the nation, according to's Scouts Inc., behind No. 1 Florida (sorta makes sense, eh?). UCLA, at No. 19, was the only other Pac-10 team in the Scouts Inc., top-25. ranked USC No. 1 in the nation, Arizona 19th, UCLA 20th and California 23rd. The rest of the Pac-10 went, in order, Arizona State (32nd in nation), Washington (35th), Stanford (38), Oregon State (41), Washington State (45) and Oregon (52).

Oregon last? Hmm.

Anyway... here's an overview


Class: 24

ESPNU top 150 players: 2

How many are expected to start in 2009: Nine (CB Devin Ross, DT Earl Mitchell, FS Cam Nelson, WR Terrell Turner, DE Brooks Reed, DE Ricky Elmore, WR Delashaun Dean, OG Conan Amituanai, C Colin Baxter)

Misses: QB Tyler Lyon, RB Derke Robinson

Verdict: This is an underrated class -- even guys who aren't listed as starters are projected to contribute in 2009. It's also notable that the few who didn't pan out -- or were problems, such as DE Louis Holmes -- were the big names.

Arizona State

Class: 24

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2009: Seven (SS Ryan McFoy, RB Dimitri Nance, OG Jon Hargis, WR Kyle Williams, DT Saia Falahola, QB Danny Sullivan, LB Travis Goethel OR LB Gerald Munns)

Misses: DE Jermaine Williams, RB Rodney Glass

Verdict: A solid class when you consider that nine of the 24 signees were JC players who have already moved on -- a group that included RB Ryan Torain and S Troy Nolan, who were the class's most elite performers.


Class: 20

ESPNU top 150 players: 2

How many are expected to start in 2009: Six (CB Darian Hagan, DT Derrick Hill, QB Kevin Riley, C Chris Guarnero, DE Tyson Alualu, LB Mike Mohamed)

Misses: RB James Montgomery, RB Tracy Slocum, DT Justin Prueitt

Verdict: Ratings, smatings. Montgomery, Slocum and Prueitt were highly rated, Alualu and Mohamed barely registered. Overall, a solid class.


Class: 20

ESPNU top 150 players: 0

How many are expected to start in 2009: Five (C Jordan Holmes, LT Bo Thran, RT C.E. Kaiser, DT Brandon Bair, LB Spenser Paysinger)

Misses: The class included three quarterbacks: Cody Kempt, Justin Roper and Nate Costa. Kempt and Roper have transferred, Costa has been riddled by injuries.

Verdict: Decidedly mixed. One thing is for sure: This class bolstered the Ducks offensive line. Also interesting, Bair and Paysinger transitioned to their current positions from tight end and receiver, respectively.

(Read full post)

Arizona State spring wrap-up

May, 8, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

Arizona State Sun Devils

2008 overall record: 5-7

2008 conference record: 4-5

Returning starters

Offense: 7; Defense: 6; Punter/kicker: 2

Top returners

OT Shawn Lauvao, K Thomas Weber, DE Dexter Davis, DT Lawrence Guy, LB Mike Nixon, CB Omar Bolden

Key losses

QB Rudy Carpenter, OL Paul Fanaika, WR Michael Jones, FS Troy Nolan

2007 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Dimitri Nance* (410)
Passing: Rudy Carpenter (2,493)
Receiving: Michael Jones (744)
Tackles: Mike Nixon* (90)
Sacks: Dexter Davis* (11)
Interceptions: Mike Nixon* (5)

2009 Schedule

Sep. 5 Idaho State
Sep. 19 Louisiana-Monroe
Sep. 26 at Georgia
Oct. 3 Oregon State
Oct. 10 at Washington State
Oct. 17 Washington
Oct. 24 at Stanford
Oct. 31 California
Nov. 7 USC
Nov. 14 at Oregon
Nov. 21 at UCLA
Nov. 28 Arizona

Spring answers

1. Some line answers: Arizona State's 2009 may swing on the improvement of its offensive line, and two moves appear to be paying off. First, Shawn Lauvao moved from guard to left tackle. He's the Sun Devils' best blocker, and coaches believe he's an all-conference candidate. Also, sophomore Garth Gerhart, brother of Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, eclipsed senior Thomas Altieri at center.

2. Safety in McFoy: The Sun Devils' biggest void on defense was the safety spot vacated by Troy Nolan, but senior Ryan McFoy, who's bounced back and forth from the secondary and linebacker, looks like he's found a home. He's athletic, a big hitter and he could be the final piece on a defense that figures to be fairly stout.

3. Sullivan steps up: While senior Danny Sullivan hasn't won the quarterback job just yet, he's the heavy favorite to do so in the fall, replacing four-year starter Rudy Carpenter. Sullivan had plenty of doubters heading into spring, but he showed improved athleticism, a good and accurate arm, and his knowledge of the offense put him ahead of his competitors. Most importantly: His solid performance probably boosted confidence all around -- his as well as his coaches' and teammates' confidence in him.

Fall questions

1. Line needs to get healthy: Three potential offensive line starters -- Matt Hustad, Zach Schlink and Adam Tello -- need to get healthy. Each sat out the spring, and Hustad, perhaps the best of the lot, in particular, is a concern. If all three are healthy, the Sun Devils' line may improve dramatically. If one or two don't, then things will be pretty thin -- again -- up front.

2. A tangled Weber is weaved: Thomas Weber is one of the nation's best kickers, but he's only an OK punter. He doesn't mind doing both jobs, but the coaches think he'll be better at kicking if he concentrates on that. So there's been an ongoing search to find someone to beat him out at punter. That search continues because no one was able to consistently boot the ball better than Weber.

3. Will the frosh deliver? At least a couple of incoming freshmen are expected to help immediately, particularly touted linebacker Vontaze Burfict and defensive tackle Corey Adams. If they arrive in shape, ready to play and as talented as advertised, they should at least provide some much-needed depth. And then the Sun Devils' defense could really make some noise this fall.

ASU notes: Sullivan steps up

April, 9, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson began spring practices speaking highly of senior quarterback Danny Sullivan, and it now appears he wasn't just trying to buck up the three-year backup.

Sullivan is the clear No. 1 on the depth chart, with sophomores Samson Szakacsy and Chasen Stangel and true freshman Brock Osweiler battling for positioning in the overall pecking order behind him.

Sullivan's superior knowledge of the offense has helped, but he's also made plays, even with his feet, something the 6-foot-4, 242 pounder hasn't previously shown an ability to do.

"He's not the most mobile guy who's ever walked but he can run when he has to," Erickson said. "And he's got a gun. And he's been very accurate, which, to me, that's what it's all about."

While the defense has dominated spring practices, Sullivan appears to have earned team-wide respect.

"He'll be fine," linebacker Mike Nixon said. "He's a big guy with a strong arm who's smart. He knows the system. They're going to use him the right way and keep him within the system."

  • Sophomore Garth Gerhart, brother to Stanford running back Toby Gerhart, has passed returning senior starter Thomas Altieri at center.
  • Injuries have been a big issue. At least seven potential starters -- including three offensive lineman -- are sitting out.
  • Senior Dimitri Nance earned praise from Erickson for a good spring and is No. 1 at tailback.
  • With cornerback Omar Bolden sitting out while recovering from shoulder surgery Terell Carr, Pierre Singfield and LeQuan Lewis have played well, suggesting there's good depth at the position.
  • Linebacker prospect Jordan Zumwalt of Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., watched practice Wednesday. Arizona State, Washington State and Boise State have already offered him, but he's expected to draw more attention in the Pac-10 over the coming months.

USC 21, ASU 0: First-half reflections

October, 11, 2008

Posted by's Ted Miller

It doesn't feel like USC played all that well or Arizona State all that badly, but the Trojans are up big, 21-0, at the break.

Obvious bottom line: You can't make mistakes and hang with USC.

Critical moment of the half: A play after the Sun Devils got lucky, winning a wild scramble and getting a first down following a Dimitri Nance fumble, Rudy Carpenter felt heat from a blitz and tried to use an outside route for his hot read. But he floated the ball -- perhaps his velocity was hurt by his bum ankle -- and Kevin Thomas broke on the ball and got a 46-yard pick-six.

Of course, the Trojans wasted the Sun Devils fumbled shotgun snap, failing to score after getting a first down on the ASU 15. But still those were plays when the Sun Devils should have been trying to chip into a 21-zip lead, not making a defensive stand.

The margin for error against USC is small, and losing the turnover battle makes it microscopic.

The biggest surprise is Arizona State is running fairly well: Nance has 49 yards on 11 carries. But how much can a team that trails USC by 21 at half continue to run the ball?

Second-quarter reflections on Georgia-ASU

September, 20, 2008

Posted by's Ted Miller

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Whichever team you are rooting for, you've got to appreciate that Knowshon Moreno "Desert Dive" that capped the Bulldogs 91-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter. He left the ground at the 4-yard line and flew into the endzone. Spectacular and Reggie Bush-esque.

It also seems like the ASU defense is vulnerable on the perimeter -- those UGA sweeps are consistently getting yards.

It's not good when you respond to a 91-yard drive with a three and out and gain zero yards on three incompletions. Nor is it good to follow by getting a punt blocked. Georgia is not a team to make things easy for.

That's why Dimitri Nance's non-contact fumble was so damaging.

The defense stopped Georgia after the blocked punt and gave it's offense good field position, only to return to the field two plays later.

It's got to be demoralizing. You could also sense the resignation in the stadium that the Bulldogs were about to go up 14-0, which they promptly did.

Remember what I said about A.J. Green? He's really good.

ASU closed the gap to 14-3 and the Bulldogs go ping-ping-ping --- 23, 31 and 14 yards to Green, the final toss for a TD.

Green has six catches for 139 yards heading into halftime.

Yowza, 21-3.

Will ASU have any answers or is this going to get ugly?

Stanford-Arizona State: Third-quarter reflections

September, 7, 2008

Posted by's Ted Miller

TEMPE, Ariz. -- From the Sun Devil Stadium press box:

It's 101 degrees at the start of the third quarter.

Someone is blowing a whistle in the stands... ref just announced that if the whistle is blown again there will be... "consequences!"


Press box erupted in laughter.

Tavita Pritchard is Stanford's QB.

And, on a first-and-15 from the Stanford 37, he tosses an interception to LB Gerald Munns. It's the Sun Devils' first forced turnover of the year, and they take over on the Cardinal 34.

Four plays later, Dimitri Nance bounces off the pile and takes it outside for a 1-yard TD run. Key play of the drive -- a 22-yard completion to TE Jovon Williams, who makes an athletic catch along the sideline.

Jason Forcier is back at QB for Stanford. It seems like Pritchard doesn't have much room for error with coach Jim Harbaugh.

Stanford seemed like it was doing some nice things on offense in the first half, when Pritchard was 8 for 11 for 89 yards. Seems like things have been flat since they started rotating QBs.

Stanford may be taking the "blue collar" thing too far -- or least trying to act like street fighters or something.

The D just got rung up for its second roughing the passer penalty. Remember LB Pat Maynor's cheap shot on Oregon State QB Lyle Moevao? And, the play before that cheap shot, Maynor had unnecessarily decked Beavers receiver Sammie Stroughter with a blow to the back well behind the play.

Of course, sometimes tough-guy stuff works. A Clinton Snyder sack forced a Carpenter fumble, killing a drive that might have put the game away for the Sun Devils.

Pritchard back in at QB for Stanford.

Three pass interference calls against the Sun Devils -- all fairly obvious -- and a sneaky 21-yard bootleg from Pritchard key the Cardinal's ensuing TD drive (6 plays, 63 yards, Toby Gerhart 1-yard burst).

27-17. Still a game with 3:07 left in the third. How will Carpenter and company answer?

Man... if this O-line gives Carpenter any time, he can just pick a defense apart -- a second-and-19 due to a holding penalty on Adam Tello?

Two Carpenter completions later, and it's first-and-10 on the Stanford 49.

Stanford-Arizona State: First-quarter reflections

September, 6, 2008

Posted by's Ted Miller

TEMPE, Ariz. -- From the Sun Devil Stadium press box:

  • Dimitri Nance starts at TB instead of Keegan Herring, who's nursing a hamstring injury.
  • WR Michael Jones is in -- his first reception went for 9 yards and a first down.
  • Sun Devils can't be too happy that a 15-play drive only yields a field goal, but a drive that kills 7:15 off the clock can't be easy on the Stanford D in this heat.
  • The Cardinal offense needs a few first downs to let the D rest -- which it promptly does. QB Tavita Pritchard looks sharp -- completely different than he did vs. Oregon State. Wow! Nice drive to answer.
  • Pritchard is 5-for-5 for 68 yards on a nine-play 80-yard TD drive to take a 7-3 lead.
  • Bam. ASU bounces back with a 46-yard completion, Carpenter to Chris McGaha. But the Cardinal pressure is getting through the Sun Devil OL. He's getting hit after almost every pass, though only one sack so far.
  • It's second-and-goal on the 4 (after a loss of 2) as the quarter ends.
  • Stanford is winning in the trenches so far, thwarting the ASU running game and getting after Carpenter.



Friday, 11/28
Saturday, 11/29