The Monday before the 2010 season opener against Portland State, fans in the valley of the sun were awaiting Dennis Erickson’s quarterback decision. Erickson tabbed Steven Threet, a transfer from Michigan, as his starting quarterback and leader of his new no huddle spread offense.
Through three games, including one on the road at one of the toughest environments, Steven Threet is the perfect man for the job. That is in no way a hit to back up Brock Osweiler, but Threet has been impressive, not just in terms of numbers, but also with the intangibles that normally go unnoticed.
A field general has been desired in Tempe, Threet has command of this offense, and the ears of his troops on the field. The man in the spotlight has to voice the sentiment of his squad. Following the Wisconsin game, Threet expressed his opinion on the near upset versus the Badgers.
“I don’t believe in moral victories,” he said.
The Sun Devils played as good of a game as a team can without winning. That’s the bottom line. ASU still lost, but Threet’s performance was impressive, even without a touchdown to his name. In the past couple seasons, the Sun Devil’s offense was pathetic to watch, and an intense struggle to score to say the least.
Last Saturday against the Wisconsin Badgers, ASU’s formerly anemic offense pushed one of the Big Ten’s best defensive units up and down the field. ASU’s execution made the Badgers look like Portland State’s defense in the season opener. Big plays in the running game and audibles by the Threet at the line of scrimmage gave the Sun Devils the upper hand, but in the end it was not enough.
“I think we have a gem,” Dennis Erickson said in regards to Threet’s performance against Wisconsin.
With yet another big game for ASU this weekend at Sun Devil Stadium, the job does not get any easier for the “gem.” The Oregon Ducks are the fifth ranked team in the country, and for good reason. Both the Ducks offensive and defensive units are ranked first in the country.
Chip Kelly, Oregon’s head coach, has engineered the Ducks’ offense to 189 points in 180 minutes of football. Pretty impressive.
The Sun Devil defense is going to have a major test, but for the first time this season, Oregon’s defense will be tested. Oregon played Tennessee earlier this year, but the Volunteers were no match for the Duck’s experienced defensive side. Matt Simms, Tennessee quarterback and son of former New York Giant great Phil Simms, was overwhelmed by the speed and effectiveness of Oregon, and could only manage a 51 percent completion percentage.
Against a team as good as Oregon, a number that low will not get it done no matter what your last name is.
Steven Threet essentially had his worst game in terms of statistics against Wisconsin, and to describe his effort as anything other than admirable would be silly. Threet completed 64 percent of his passes (21-of-33), for 211 yards and no touchdowns. Sure the touchdowns were not there, but as the story has been, missed opportunities in the end zone were the downfall in Madison.
Threet has a 144.80 QB rating on the year, and a number close to that or better is needed this Saturday night versus a team that will be deeply entrenched in BCS Championship talk come December.
If the Sun Devils are going to have a shot, the game will be won and lost with the leader at quarterback. Another moral victory will do nothing for the Sun Devils heading into three tough road games. A 2-2 record will be all ASU has to show for their performances.
It is time to win, and nobody knows that more than the two faces in the spotlight: Dennis Erickson on the sidelines and Steven Threet in the shotgun running the offense. Behind Threet’s arm, the offense will have to provide the fireworks to fight punch for punch with the Ducks.
There is no doubt that this game is going to be entertaining. Even the ASU brass, Erickson included, has been pushing “Sun Devil Nation” to come out and fill Sun Devil Stadium. There is no doubt that the fans will get their money’s worth with these two teams playing. The Ducks can put up the points, and this season ASU has done much of the same. Both defenses are top notch, but ASU has struggled with Oregon’s option in the past.
Although the scores have been one-sided recently, with Oregon claiming the last five games. Arizona State has not beaten Oregon since Dirk Koetter and Andrew Walter were the faces of Sun Devil football. In 2002, Walter completed one of the greatest comebacks and single game performances in Pac-10 history.
Against the very same Oregon Ducks that ASU will face Saturday night, Walter threw for a school-record 536 yards and four touchdowns, and the Sun Devils rallied from a 21-0 second-quarter deficit to win 45-42. Walter did not just beat the Ducks that day in Autzen, but he managed to accomplish that same feat two more times to end his career perfect against Oregon (3-0).
Threet is in a similar mold as Walter, and could be the major difference from a 4-8 team in 2009, and an upper echelon Pac-10 team in 2010. On Saturday night, the Sun Devils will put their team to the test against the best. Can Threet perform his best against the best?
After Saturday’s performance at Wisconsin, Threet is in fact the difference for this year’s ASU team. Threet is the missing puzzle piece from a dismal 2009 team, and a team that was ranked ninth in the preseason poll. Nobody was sure if Threet could do the job, or even keep the job through the season.
Three weeks into the season, ASU was back on the national scene last Saturday but came up short against the number 11 team in the nation. Not too bad for a bottom of barrel Pac-10 team, right?
ASU dropped another big game, and a loss is all the maroon and gold have to show for it. However, a similar opportunity is in front of them. This Saturday night at home, versus the Ducks is the perfect stage to prove to the naysayers what type of team Arizona State really is.
Programs are built on statement games, and ASU has been on the short end of the stick on too many occasions. Steven Threet might just be that performer to make a big-time statement in a big-time game for the Sun Devils.