Arizona State Sun Devils College Football Preview

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Arizona State Sun Devils Football Preview ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>

By Bob Acton of Sportingbet USA – now –

Needless to say there was unrest in Tempe this offseason asrunning back Loren Wade’s disruptive career, has come to an end.Both athletic director Gene Smith and head coach Dirk Koetter’shandling of Wade has come under fire in the desert. In March Wadewas accused of killing former Sun Devil player Brandon Falkner,who was talking with Wade’s ex girlfriend ASU soccer player Haleyvan Blommestein.

Despite several violations at ASU, both Smith and Koetter hadcleared Wade to practice in the spring and this was also afterVan Blommestein had complained to police and her soccer coach,that Wade had threatened her life.

Anyhow the cupboard is not bare in Tempe as the Sun Devils comeoff an impressive 27-23 bowl victory over a talented Purdue squad,and last years backup quarterback Sam Keller was awesome with370 yards passing. The running back picture is muddled as, AntoneSaulsberry, Jarrett Sayas, Rudy Burgess and Price Wilks all canmake an impression. Burgess is the leading rusher returning with404 yards. That is a number that must improve.

The Sun Devils made just one staff change, but it is a big one,with former defensive coordinator Brent Guy taking the head-coachingjob at Utah State. Bill Miller takes over and inherits the Devils’4-3 base defense. He could bring a little more aggressivenesswith additional blitz packages.

The Sun Devils will find out early if they deserve a top 20billing with games at LSU on Sept. 10, followed by a home gameagainst Northwestern, before playing Pac-10 games at Oregon Stateand then home versus two-time defending champ USC. If ASU survivesthis brutal part of the schedule, watch out.

Koetter was recruited to Arizona State due to his fine recordat Boise State and he certainly showed great improvement in hissecond year. I would think that the whole Wade experience couldbe a major distraction, but this is college football and corruptionis seen as part of the game.

Playersof Note:

WR Derek Hagan — The senior needs just eightcatches and 265 yards and seven more touchdown receptions to becomethe school’s career record holder in all three categories.

LB — Dale Robinson came from nowhere to make93 tackles, including 13.5 for loss and 4.5 sacks. A duplicateperformance could get the junior to think about leaving early.

TE Zach Miller — the Pac-10 freshman of the Yearcaught 56 passes for 552 yards and six touchdowns last season.Don’t expect those numbers to dwindle.

TOP NEWCOMERS: QB Derek Shaw — It willbe difficult for a true freshman to make a run at the startingnod, but don’t count the Oceanside (Calif.) High School star out.He threw for 2,805 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior.

TB Shaun DeWitty — Colorado’s second leadinghigh school rusher with 2,225 yards could be the answer to ASU’sground woes.

S Derron Ware — the transfer from Michigan Stateis on the field again after spending a year away from the game.As a freshman with the Spartans he played 10 games. He had 28tackles and a sack in 2003 during his sophomore campaign.

The Sun Devils were minus at least a dozen playersfor the spring, including some marquee names like tight end ZachMiller. Tailbacks Randy Hill, Cornell Canidate and Preston Jonesare all out. Defensive backs Josh Golden and R.J. Oliver are unavailableto practice. Add receivers Terry Richardson, Matt Miller and MoeyMutz to the injured list. Receiver Jeremy Payton has moved tosafety, while tailback Rudy Burgess will rotate some at receiver.

They need to play better in marquee games againstUSC, California and Arizona, which they will and there is a shotat the PAC 10 title!

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