Scouting Report: ASU

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Round #8: Arizona State Sun Devils

2010 Record: 4-4 (2-3 in the Pac-10)

2009 Record: 4-8 (2-7 in the Pac-10)

Series History: USC leads 17-9 (Last meeting: 14-9 USC in '09)

Dennis-Erickson.jpgHead Coach: Dennis Erickson (4th season)

The two-time national champion coach (1989 and 1991 at Miami) is in his 21st season as a college football head man, which does not count his time running the Seattle Seahawks.  He is known for explosive offenses and teams loaded with NFL talent, but discipline has been an issue at nearly every stop. 

Players to Watch: LB Vontaze Burfict (Sophomore, Corona, CA); QB Steven Threet (Junior, Adrian, MI)

What could have been...  The ASU linebacker decommitted from USC in order to join the Sun Devils.  The comparisons between Burfict and Rey Maualuga are almost eerie.  He plays with a reckless ferocity, which when harnessed makes him the most feared defensive player in the conference.  However, when he lets his anger overtake his better angels, he is one of the most undisciplined players in the nation.

The Michigan transfer was a misfit in Rich Rodriguez's system, but he is now the barometer for Erickson's offense.  When he plays well, they can beat anyone, including Oregon, who would have gone down if not for Threet's four interceptions.  When he plays poorly, they are capable of losing 50-17 to Cal, which happened the week after USC destroyed the Bears.

Recruiting Note: ASU has built a fertile base in southern California, especially at neighbor high schools Centennial of Corona (six players) and Norco (five players).

Strength: High Ceiling

Normally, a 4-4 team with a below .500 conference record would not pose much of a threat coming into the Coliseum, but the Sun Devils have shown that they can (almost) slay giants on their best day.  With a little luck or fewer unforced errors, they would have wins over #7 Wisconsin and #1 Oregon.  When they get out of their own way, they have top 20 talent.

Weakness: Discipline

They are last in the Pac-10 in penalties to go along with a -7 turnover margin (tied for last).  They struggle with the "little things" like the blocked extra point which cost them a shot at overtime with Wisconsin.  Erickson is known to take chances on players with spotty backgrounds that are loaded with talent.  When he has a good team, they can be overwhelming (ask Notre Dame about that Oregon St. team they faced in the '01 Fiesta Bowl), but they can also look a lot better on paper than in the final standings.

ASU Verdict

They are an interesting team for the Trojans to face right now.  The Sun Devils will spread things out in the Coliseum and attack the 114th ranked pass defense in the nation.  They will also bring speed rushers off the edge and physical blitzers up the gut to test USC's offensive line, which drew harsh criticisms from Lane Kiffin earlier this week.

On the other side, USC has not lost to Arizona State since 1999 mostly because the Trojans have teed off on the Devils immobile quarterbacks like Andrew Walter and Rudy Carpenter.  While Threet has more mobility than those two, he is hardly Darron Thomas, so the USC defense can get back to their attacking strength.

Tell me you don't see some Maualuga in this Burfict hit...

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