The Arizona State Sun Devils: Three Keys to Success

David HedlindAnalyst IIApril 26, 2009

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 13:  Head coach Dennis Erickson of the Arizona State Sun Devils runs onto the field during introductions before the game with the Washington Huskies on October 13, 2007 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.  Arizona State won 44-20.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

This is the fifth in a 10 part series about what I see as three points that will contribute to the success or needs to be fixed for the success of each Pac-10 team.


Head Coach Dennis Erickson

Dennis Erickson has had success everywhere he has been as a college coach.

He turned Idaho into a playoff team, going from 3-8 to 8-3 in one season. Erickson became the all time winningest coach in Idaho history in four seasons. He had the Vandals 4-0 against rival Boise State while he was there.

He moved on to Wyoming for a season where he took a 3-8 team to 6-6. His next stop was Washington State, where he went 3-7-1 in season one and 9-3 in the second, which was also his last.

He started his stint with the Miami Hurricanes with a National Championship. In his six seasons there he won two National Championships and never had less than nine wins.

After some time away in the NFL, he returned to the college game at Oregon State. He took the Beavers to the Fiesta bowl and a share of the Pac-10 title within two years before falling off a bit, going 5-6 and 8-5 the next two.

He left and returned to the NFL for a couple seasons before going back to where he started, Idaho. I think everyone saw his return to Idaho as a quick stop and that’s what it turned out to be. In one season he took a 2-9 team and doubled their win total to a 4-8 record.

Which brings us to his current position as the head coach of Arizona State. In year one he won a share of the Pac-10 title. Year two they missed a bowl, going 5-7. With Erickson’s history, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sun Devils were contending for the Pac-10 title soon again.



The nonconference portion of the schedule has the appearance of Arizona State going 2-1 to start the season. Their toughest game will be going on the road to the University of Georgia.

The Pac-10 schedule sets up nicely for the Sun Devils. They get five out of nine conference games at home this season.

Of the Pac-10 teams that went to bowls in 2008, four of them travel to play at Arizona State.

USC, Oregon State, Cal, and Arizona will all have to play in the desert.

Their toughest conference road game is likely to be a trip to Oregon.

If they can open the first half going 4-2, and I think they can, they could possibly carry some momentum into the second half of the season.


Experience on the Offensive Line

It has been no secret that the offensive line at Arizona State has been one of the worst in the country the last couple seasons.

In 2007 they gave up 55 sacks, which was bad enough to be the second to worst total that season. That was with an experienced line that had all five starters from 2006 returning.

Going in to 2008, there was rebuilding going on after losing four starters.

They did improve, but still gave up 34 sacks.

For 2009, it appears that only RG Paul Fanaika will be leaving. The line will be more experienced and will hopefully be able to protect the quarterback a little better.

This is important because the quarterback is going to be new. Whoever is named the starter will have very little, if any, playing experience at this level.

If the line can’t protect the inexperienced quarterback, it could be a long season for the Sun Devils.