How Will the Arizona State Sun Devils Manage with the Conditions at Georgia?
The atmosphere at Sanford Stadium on Saturday night, will be a sight and an experience that the Arizona State Sun Devils are not too accustomed to. Sanford Stadium seats over 92,000 fans, and the Sun Devils have not played in front of 92,000 fans in their first two games at home this season.
The expression, "Live for football," will be voiced loud and clear, by the red and black clad fans. The Sun Devils will hear the Georgia fans barking the instant the maroon and gold take the field until the final whistle.
The Sun Devils will have to trace back to their Oregon road trip in 2007, to remember what it is like to play in the most hostile of environments. Although, Autzen is said to be the loudest stadium in the Pac-10, its capacity is just below 60,000.
There are still many questions yet to be answered for the Sun Devils, and Head Coach Dennis Erickson, although, I don't know if they want to get those questions answered against a dominant Southeastern Conference team, like Georgia.
Arizona State will be led offensively by their Senior quarterback, Danny Sullivan. Sullivan, has yet to make a road start, and only has two career starts under his belt. For me, the coaching staff will have to build his confidence early if the Sun Devils look to pull of the upset Saturday.
So far on the season, Sullivan has passed for 385 yards and one lone touchdown. However, his leadership and poise while engineering ASU's offense Saturday night can't be done alone. The Sun Devils speedy receivers will have to manage the load and take some of the burden off of Sullivan. Kyle Williams, Chris McGaha, and Kerry Taylor will have to be integral supporters, if the Sun Devils want to have any success "Between the Hedges".
Another question mark entering this came, usually would be the last thing on Erickson's mind heading into a big game: the kicking game. On Tuesday morning, Dennis Erickson revealed on Phoenix's KTAR 620 radio station, that Junior kicker Tom Weber would miss the next five to six games.
In a matchup that could potentially turn into a defensive quagmire, given the conditions in Georgia this past week, the kicking game normally would be a automatic three points for the Sun Devils.
This week in practice, the Sun Devils have experimented with Weber's replacement for the ULM game last week, Bobby Wenzig. Although, during Erickson's interview with KTAR, the head coach revealed that the coaching staff has not ruled out using Senior linebacker and play-maker Mike Nixon as a replacement kicker for ASU.
This should not be a surprise for fans around the maroon and gold. Nixon was a kicker and punter at Sunnyslope high school in Phoenix, AZ. However, don't look for the linebacker to be wearing kicker cleats as he is tackling running backs Saturday night.
The questions regarding Arizona State's season outlook will come to the forefront Saturday night in Athens, GA. The weather has not been ideal, to say the least, but no matter what, the game will still come down to who wants it more.
The talent levels for both teams have equaled out since their 2008 meeting, featuring NFL Draft picks Knowshown Moreno and Matthew Stafford, but the result of this seasons contest will come down to which team makes the least amount of mistakes, and turns those mistakes into points.
Right now, ASU looks better capable of holding onto the football and score when they can, while relying on their athletic defense to make plays and keep the score close.
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