In his forth season, Dennis Erickson is the head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils. He wants to get the Sun Devils back on the winning track after two straight losing seasons. Actually, Arizona State went just 4-8 overall and a very disappointing 2-7 in Pac-10 play in 2009. Erickson have to face up with so many things in 2010, as the Sun Devils have just nine starters back from last year. This article is a quick preview of what the Sun Devils will look like this season, plus my prediction on where they finish up the season in the Pac-10.
The Sun Devils are hoping former Michigan quarterback Steven Threet will be able to step in and give the team a lift in 2010, as they must replace 2009 starter Danny Sullivan. Threet threw for 1,105 yards with 9 touchdowns to 7 interceptions in eight starts with the Wolverines in 2008. If Threet is unable to win the job look for either Samson Szakacsy or Brock Osweiler to win the job, as both saw limited action in 2009.
Whoever wins the job will have to make do with a revamped receiving corps that must replace its top two playmakers from 2009. Senior Kerry Taylor looks to become the teams No.1 target, as he is the only returning starter at this position. A couple of juniors in George Bell and Gerell Robinson figure to step in at the two open spots, and it will be key that at least one of these two produce solid numbers in 2010. The Sun Devils will also hope to get some production out of red-shirt freshman tight end Christopher Coyle, and former Oregon wide out Aaron Pflugrad.
The Sun Devils will also have to replace their starting running back from 2009. Sophomore Cameron Marshall will likely step into the starting role after finishing second on the team with 280 yards and two scores in 2009. Deantre Lewis and Jamal Miles will head into the season as the top backups. The Sun Devils have struggled to get the running game going the last two seasons, and it will be one of the keys for this team to turn things around in 2010.
The problem for the Sun Devils is they only have two starters back on the offensive line in junior center Garth Gethart and sophomore left guard Zach Schlink. For this unit to improve they are going to have to get solid play out of junior tackles Brice Schwab and Aderious Simmons, as they not only will be key in opening up running lanes, but they have to be able to give whoever starts at quarterback enough time to throw.
The Sun Devils have only five starters back on the defensive side of the ball, but they do return three starters up front on the defensive line. They have solid size in the middle in returning starters Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola, with Guy figuring to be one of the top tackles in all of the Pac-10 this season. The Sun Devils also bring back defensive end James Brook, who finished tied for second on the team with 3.5 sacks in 2009. Senior Dean DeLeone is the projected starter at the other defensive end spot.
At linebacker the Sun Devils bring back one of the top young middle linebackers in the conference in sophomore Vontaze Burfict, who finished second on the team with 69 tackles as a true freshman, but must find two new starters on the outside. Heading into the season it looks likes juniors Shelly Lyons and Brandon Magee will get first crack at making the starting lineup at the two open spots.
The Sun Devils will feature four new starters in the secondary this season, but get back one of the top corners in the conference in junior Omar Bolden, who starters 21 games before having to sit out last season. Sophomore Deveron Carr started 3 games as a red-shirt freshman, and should step into the starting corner spot opposite of Bolden. At safety the Sun Devils are projected to start sophomore Keelan Johnson at strong safety and junior Clint Floyd at free safety. Not a lot of experience between the two, but they are going to have to perform well for this unit to improve.
Pac-10 Predictions – 9th: I think the Sun Devils will struggle to get things going again in 2010. I am concerned about the offensive line and a defense that only has two seniors projected in the starting lineup. I would not be surprised if the Sun Devils actually finished with a worse record in 2010, as they only have two real winnable games in non-conference action, and will likely only be favored against Washington State at home in conference play.
For a detailed look at the 2010 Pac-10 Predictions check this out.
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