Have we seen this story before? The story that I am referencing is a senior quarterback who is struggling, and the fans calling for a youthful look to the future. Last season in Tempe, Senior gunslinger Rudy Carpenter was booed constantly, during games and even while he was winning consistently at Arizona State. But Carpenter's fiery mentality and tough guy attitude was not enough when the Sun Devils struggled last season to a 5-7 record. During the late stages of the season, Danny Sullivan was the quarterback that the fans wanted to see taking meaningful snaps.
Now jump to 2009, the senior quarterback who is struggling is Sullivan, and the youthful an inexperienced Brock Osweiler is the one that the maroon and gold clad fans are chanting for constantly. Well, in the USC game on Saturday, the fans season-long wish was granted.
Brock Osweiler entered the game on a third and goal play, following a Sullivan knee injury. Osweiler immediately went into the game, without taking any warm up throws and completed a 10-yard pass to tight end Jovan Williams, that set up a Thomas Weber field goal. ASU then took a 3-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Now before Sullivan's knock down that forced him to the sideline for one play, the senior was managing the game and was doing it somewhat effectively. His weakness this season has been trying to do too much, when the pressure was on. With that being said, Sullivan threw two interceptions, one turned into seven points for USC, when the Sun Devils were driving, to try and extend their lead to six or maybe even ten points before the half.
Sullivan finished out the first half with 12 completions for 112 yards and two costly interceptions. In the second half, Dennis Erickson went with Montana native Brock Osweiler to lead the Sun Devils' offense.
Osweiler looked good in some areas and maybe even worse than Sullivan in others. Osweiler did lead ASU to their lone touchdown drive of the game in the third quarter, when he connected with Chris McGaha for a 23-yard touchdown.
But when Osweiler was forced to lead the Sun Devils during a rapid two minute drill in the fourth quarter, the only thing he was doing was throwing incompletes and being flushed out of the pocket. Osweiler looked like he was rattled and confused when USC dropped into coverage and rushed only four players to pressure the big signal caller.
Now I am not saying that Osweiler does not give the Sun Devils a better chance to win than Sullivan, I am saying that Osweiler's inexperience did show in the late stages of the USC game Saturday night.
Sullivan would have been better suited to march the team down the field to try and forge a comeback victory. Although both quarterbacks are relatively inexperienced, Sullivan does have moderate experience in those types of situations.
Now the question moving forward is, who will Erickson turn to when the Sun Devils take the field at Autzen Stadium? To ask Brock Osweiler to make his first start in one of the most hostile environments in the country is a tall task, one that might even be too tall for Sullivan as well.
So which quarterback is better suited to lead the maroon and gold for the rest of the season? It is clear that a musical chairs scenario at quarterback will only prove to be detrimental to the teams overall success moving forward. One quarterback has to be named, and that quarterback must remain under center for the final three games.
The Sun Devils' locker room cannot be divided any longer. Some players are calling for Brock, and others are staying loyal to their Senior leader Danny Sullivan.
Sullivan's numbers have not been off the charts amazing, and they certainly have not been down right awful. Generally, he has been pretty pedestrian running the offense, but pedestrian has only left the Sun Devils with a 4-5 record, and fighting for their postseason bowl lives.
Brock Osweiler finished the second half against USC with 153 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Now, what can we expect from Osweiler in a complete game effort? If the Freshman starts this Saturday at Oregon and completely falls apart, will Erickson return back to Sullivan, or let Osweiler learn from his mistakes when wins are at a premium right now?
All I can say is that the Sun Devil fans are wishing they could have Rudy Carpenter back slinging the football all over the field this season. 2009 probably would have been a far more successful season if Carpenter was still taking snaps. But then again, the fans are only realizing what a great competitor they had at quarterback, only after he is long gone.