It’s early fall in Phoenix, and that means another season of ASU football is upon us. After a shared PAC-10 championship in his first year, fan approval of Dennis Erickson was off the charts. Following two disappointing seasons — the first back-to-back losing seasons in 60+ years — there’s open discussion amongst fans of who ASU should pursue for the head coaching job in 2011. In what is otherwise a wide-open year for the Rose Bowl, the media has picked ASU to finish ninth in the conference.
What to expect
While the team will be returning what is expected to be a stellar defense, the questions all center around the offense. New offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has installed an up tempo, spread ’em out and throw offense. That’s excited some fans, even though it resembles the quick strike offense so many of them came to despise about Dirk Koetter. However, this defense just may have enough depth for this philosophy to work. That is, however, if the offensive line stays healthy and manages to play above expectations, the quarterback position remains stable, and the wide receivers make consistent plays.
The offense will be improved, but not stellar. The lack of offensive line depth will remain a problem. The defense will not be quite as good as last year, but will be a solid and formidable force. After losing 4 games by a combined 13 points, we should see far better special teams play with Weber’s return. Erickson will pull out the stops when necessary; he’d better, his job is on the line.
This will be a better team than the 2009 team. Will it be enough?
Unfortunately, I think we’ll still end up a game or two short from a bowl game. We’ll win 5-6 games, but unless the offense improves significantly, I don’t think that we’ll be bowling again this year. There are still too many questions on offense, a challenging schedule, and a disinterested fan base. However, if the offense can get it going, this team will not finish 9th in the conference and will remain in the bowl mix.