1. The Defense will lead the team. It’s painfully obvious that the offense is not the strength of the 2009 team. The defense will clearly carry the team – something we’re not used to seeing from an ASU team. However, for all of the ways that Erickson has failed to field a really competitive offense (at least since Ryan Torain went down), he’s done a stellar job of upgrading the defense. This is the fastest defense we’ve seen from ASU in quite a while.
2. Danny Sullivan and Dimitri Nance shouldn’t be the starters. Both have been in the program long enough to get the nod if talent levels are the same. However, at least on the field tonight, neither were tops in their respective positions. Nance had a difficult time finding the hole but looked better than he actually was given the competition. The other backs wowed on several plays; they’re the future and we need them to play.
Also assisted by a lesser opponent, Sullivan ended the night with somewhat respectable numbers, despite looking much worse in person. He seemed either quickly flustered in the pocket or slow to react to oncoming pressure. He zipped the balls when a bit more touch was necessary, making several attempted catches much harder than they needed to be. Brock, on the other hand, seemed very composed in the pocket and completed several passes in spite of pressure that would have resulted in a sack with Sullivan. His touchdown pass was a top-quality pass, anticipating the hole and lofting it perfectly in between two-deep coverage. He is clearly the future and it would be best for Sun Devil football to get him as many reps this season as possible.
3. Mike Nixon is still a stud. He’s smart – football smart, and very mature. He’s not the fastest, not the strongest, not the largest, but he just makes plays after plays. He has that Tillman/Archuleta quality of just being in the right place and doing the right thing at the right time.
4. Vontaze Burflict is the real deal. First play from scrimmage, he lays a big hit on the quarterback. Second play, he recovers a fumble. Let the hitting begin, this guys going to be catching the eyes of lots of people. He is a stud.
5. There’s a lot to be tightened up. And it all starts with the pregame, which the stadium crew flubbed. The kick return coverage seemed effective, but at times, dangerously close to losing the returner to a long long gain. Receivers dropped countless passes. Hell, even Weber missed a short FG attempt. In order to win some PAC10 games, we’ll need to tighten things up.