Sure, we know that we’re playing a ton of young players – for the second year in a row – and that Dennis Erickson has only been here for three seasons. That recruiting is generally better than it’s been and that we’re landing some players, like Vontaze Burfict, that this school hasn’t before. That Dennis Erickson is not a loser, and that he’s won everywhere he’s coached. Except for the pros, of course.
In short, we know that things won’t always be this way. Or at least, that’s what we’re told, and what we tell ourselves.
But it’s not clear that a better future is ensured. A few thoughts:
There is no way we will win with Rich Olsen
Since arriving on campus, offensive coordinator Rich Olsen has been downright offensive. Known for its proliferation under Dirk Koetter, ASU’s offensive has simply gotten worse and worse under Erickson’s tenure. I think we generally have better players than we did five years ago. Unfortunately, we just don’t have better coaches. Rich Olsen tops the list of duds.
The scheme the team is able to run continues to decline, and Erickson’s to the point that he needed to run down to Texas for a refresher course on being an offensive coordinator. Then he told Olsen go sit in the booth and pretend to do something. Of course, Erickson calling the plays hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire either, but then again, that’s not supposed to be his job. Olsen is simply dead weight.
Erickson needs to right this ship and fast – and the clear and obvious path towards that is firing Olsen and finding a young and innovative young coach to replace him. Or at least one that can recruit.
I’ve never been much of a fan of Dimitri Nance, but I think he’s made some serious strides this year. He dances in the hole much less than he used, and his vision has been a pleasant surprise. At times, he can run very hard and pick up those extra yards. He’s done a fabulous job of blocking for a running back. But finally, he just has some balance troubles. He often goes down when there was only minor contact, and often mindboggingly easily. It’d be great if he could turn on some afterburners, too, as the tv looks like it’s on slo-mo while Nance is running the ball.
Penalties, penalties, penalties
It’s sickening how many penalties we get each game. You can’t beat the other team if you’re always beating yourselves. This needs to stop. Period.
Developing the younger players
The most annoying thing about this season is that we’re only half-heartedly playing the younger guys. Sure, we’re taking our lumps with their inexperience, but the problem is that the players we have been playing don’t seem to be getting any better. The only two players on the team that seem to have gotten better since Erickson has arrived are Trevor Hankins and Mike Nixon. Nance and others have made some minor strides, but it’s clear that few of them are developing in line with their potential. Some other coaches in the conference (I’m looking at you, Mike Riley and Jim Harbaugh) routinely get more from their players. Our coaching staff seems to get far far less.
The coaching hot seat?
So is Dennis Erickson on the coaching hot seat? No.
But fans are getting very concerned, and while Lisa Love may not be considering a change, she definitely knows that fans aren’t happy. Ticket sales are way down, there’s little excitement around the program and the boos rain freely down in the first quarter of home games.
To survive and prosper, Erickson needs to make some serious changes. And before a third straight disappointing season begins.