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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 @ 6:32pm

Stagnant or statement

By: Doug Franz
"We should beat this team."

"I don't like playing in these games because you can't win for losing."

"I expect us to go out there and dominate."

These are not the normal comments from a college head football coach. We've learned over the last two and a half years that coach Todd Graham is not the normal head football coach.

Tuesday night on his coach's show, he told me that Jamil Douglas wants the offensive coordinator to call more run plays. "Ask him about that," he said. "I like to stir things up a bit."

No one in the nation coaches like Graham. He's in your face but positive. His intensity is completely off the deep end yet scores of players swear by him. One former player is even marrying his daughter.

This is a fulcrum year for the future of ASU. If Graham gets back to the Pac-12 Championship game, some football powers will have seen enough. The national stench that was on Graham when he left Pittsburgh will be completely flushed out.

In Gainsville, fans are restless. Despite a mostly joke non-conference schedule and eight home games, Florida plays six pre-season top-25 teams including #1 Florida State and #2 Alabama. If things go south for Will Muschamp, UF will come calling with more money, better facilities, a better recruiting base and better fans.

How many times can Graham look up at 10,000 empty seats and not think he's done all he can at ASU?

What appears to be different now is the vision of the entire athletic program. It started with the hiring of Steve Patterson -- and the people he brought in with him.

Although the job is not complete, the Ray Anderson group has ramped up expectations. Sure, ASU still has plenty of the narrow-minded, protect-my-turf types. As the people with tunnel vision continue to vanish from the program with greater regularity due to the new regime, there should be an assumption that outside support will increase as well.

One twenty-something at Majerle's Tuesday night said, "I've never been a Sun Devil Club member. I became one because of that man."

He pointed at the empty chair where Todd Graham had been sitting a few minutes earlier.

It's an interesting time at ASU. The program needs Todd Graham. And Todd Graham still needs ASU.

Fans are still disillusioned on just how far behind they are from being a big time fan base like an Ohio State, Alabama or Oklahoma. Yet the ASU athletic department will let another opportunity slip away if they don't see a bigger picture to attract more fans.

Although it's sad more ASU fans aren't motivated by love of school and community to support their team, there's little doubt many regimes of the past at ASU have dropped the ball in enticing new support or keeping the support they had. Although Graham is comfortably under contract, every win will make him more attractive to big time programs.

The only way to avoid this is for ASU to become a big time program.

In the near future, we'll know if ASU stands for Arizona's Stagnant University or Arizona's Statement University.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 @ 6:32pm

Stagnant or statement

By: Doug Franz
"We should beat this team."

"I don't like playing in these games because you can't win for losing."

"I expect us to go out there and dominate."

These are not the normal comments from a college head football coach. We've learned over the last two and a half years that coach Todd Graham is not the normal head football coach.

Tuesday night on his coach's show, he told me that Jamil Douglas wants the offensive coordinator to call more run plays. "Ask him about that," he said. "I like to stir things up a bit."

No one in the nation coaches like Graham. He's in your face but positive. His intensity is completely off the deep end yet scores of players swear by him. One former player is even marrying his daughter.

This is a fulcrum year for the future of ASU. If Graham gets back to the Pac-12 Championship game, some football powers will have seen enough. The national stench that was on Graham when he left Pittsburgh will be completely flushed out.

In Gainsville, fans are restless. Despite a mostly joke non-conference schedule and eight home games, Florida plays six pre-season top-25 teams including #1 Florida State and #2 Alabama. If things go south for Will Muschamp, UF will come calling with more money, better facilities, a better recruiting base and better fans.

How many times can Graham look up at 10,000 empty seats and not think he's done all he can at ASU?

What appears to be different now is the vision of the entire athletic program. It started with the hiring of Steve Patterson -- and the people he brought in with him.

Although the job is not complete, the Ray Anderson group has ramped up expectations. Sure, ASU still has plenty of the narrow-minded, protect-my-turf types. As the people with tunnel vision continue to vanish from the program with greater regularity due to the new regime, there should be an assumption that outside support will increase as well.

One twenty-something at Majerle's Tuesday night said, "I've never been a Sun Devil Club member. I became one because of that man."

He pointed at the empty chair where Todd Graham had been sitting a few minutes earlier.

It's an interesting time at ASU. The program needs Todd Graham. And Todd Graham still needs ASU.

Fans are still disillusioned on just how far behind they are from being a big time fan base like an Ohio State, Alabama or Oklahoma. Yet the ASU athletic department will let another opportunity slip away if they don't see a bigger picture to attract more fans.

Although it's sad more ASU fans aren't motivated by love of school and community to support their team, there's little doubt many regimes of the past at ASU have dropped the ball in enticing new support or keeping the support they had. Although Graham is comfortably under contract, every win will make him more attractive to big time programs.

The only way to avoid this is for ASU to become a big time program.

In the near future, we'll know if ASU stands for Arizona's Stagnant University or Arizona's Statement University.

Monday, August 25, 2014 @ 11:18am

Initial thoughts on the Cardinals' first cuts

By: Doug Franz
The Cardinals announced Monday they've released 13 players. The deadline to have done so is Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. Here are some quick thoughts I had when I read through the names.

1) CLASSY

Always impressive when a team makes the cuts some 27 hours early. The Cardinals had every right to wait until the last minute so they could dangle a player in a trade or study other cuts before making a move. Having the right doesn't make it right. Releasing the players Monday gives them a better chance to make another roster.

2) JAY FEELY

It has always seemed Bruce Arians came down harder on Feely when he messed up than other players. Obviously, that's a completely speculative opinion, but Feely never seemed to be "Arians' guy." Irrelevant if that's true or not, the kicking competition was very fair and I think the kicker with the better preseason won. We won't know until the regular season if the better kicker won.

3) MAX STARKS

Really surprised by this cut. I'm not surprised that he was cut but that he was cut in the first round of cuts. I have great respect for any player that gives all that he has. With that duly earned by Bradley Sowell, he just hasn't played at an NFL level. Although Starks has done very little since his arrival due to injury, I'm surprised Arizona didn't keep Starks and wait to see if his health improves. Sowell has shown he struggles playing NFL football. Starks shows that he struggles with his health. Time might help Starks. I don't think time will help Sowell.

4) RYAN LINDLEY

Everyone knew this would happen the second Logan Thomas was drafted I feel bad for Lindley because he was in a great situation. Lindley won't "wow" you with arm strength so it was imperative that he wins on intangibles, accuracy and decision-making. Lindley hasn't succeeded in these areas during practice. He had a year to learn from two excellent quarterback coaches (Arians and Tom Moore), yet those coaches weren't impressed enough to skip available quarterbacks in the most recent draft. If those two couldn't develop a diamond "from that rough," it's hard to believe someone else will.

Friday, August 22, 2014 @ 7:29am

What I Saw -- Thursday, Aug. 21

By: Doug Franz
This is my last training camp blog. Please let me know what you've thought about what I wrote and what you wished I would have covered.

FLAGSTAFF:

I'll never get over training camp being in Glendale and not in Flagstaff. It was much easier to get to know the coaches and players in Flagstaff. There were multiple opportunities to talk to the players in the cafeteria or as they walked from practice to the dorms. I loved the weather and the atmosphere.

Make no mistake, however, there are zero Cardinals players or coaches that I've talked to that agree with anything I just said. From a team standpoint, training camp in Glendale exponentially more productive. NAU did a horrible disservice to every Flagstaff business and to this state for their haughty opinion of themselves. They played chicken with a Cardinal and lost.

TED LARSEN:

We need to get to know him because he's going to be the starting left guard for the Arizona Cardinals. Every member of the media owes you a big recantation -- myself included -- for the number of times we've said during the offseason, "...and when Cooper comes back it will be like getting a second first-round pick."

After practice, assistant line coach David Diaz-Infante worked with Larsen. Diaz-Infante would yell "Hut" and attack Larsen with a big yellow pad. Every punch from Larsen was dissected by Diaz-Infante. Although Larsen's punch was part of the focus, this one-on-one was all about footwork. The toughest thing for any guard is to aggressively receive the pass rush. Attack with the hands without getting top heavy all while keeping your feet moving.

DEONE BUCANNON:

Broken record. Another interception.

TYRANN MATHIEU:

Did more than drills. Even laid the lumber to a few receivers. Looks like nothing ever happened.

LARRY FITZGERALD:

An amazing one-handed catch that we've all started to take for granted.

OFFENSIVE FORMATION:

We're always asked to not write about sensitive information so I have to tread lightly, but I loved what I saw from the receivers yesterday. So much pre-snap motion. A lot of varying routes between Fitz, Floyd and the Browns. There's still work to be done to make sure they are seeing what Palmer is seeing but it looked tough for any defense to take all the weapons away. All that remains is pass protection.

Thursday, August 21, 2014 @ 8:19am

Young fan with popcorn bucket hat gets hit by ball, falls onto field

By: Haboob Blog
When you go to a baseball game and sit in the front row, you know there's a solid chance a ball will come your way.

That's exactly what happened for one young fan at the Arizona Diamondbacks-Washington Nationals game on Wednesday.

Unfortunately for the kid, who was wearing a Bryce Harper shirt, a Harper foul ball took a nasty bounce off the wall and he ended up taking it off his head. While wearing a popcorn bucket hat. And then he fell onto the field.

Talk about a string of bad luck all happening in about 2.2 seconds.

Diamondbacks broadcaster Bob Brenly summed it up well, "Oh, he took it right in the chops. Tough bounce, knocked the popcorn bucket right off his head."

We're thinking maybe the kid has thrown away the Harper shirt.

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