For the greatest nation in the World’s history, Election Day is Tuesday. For the Arizona State Sun Devils, Election Day was Saturday. The players voted for Dennis Erickson for President.
It’s very easy to dismiss a win against Washington State. If you’re skeptical fan, you can easily ask to be awakened once ASU beats someone from any state with a capital city different than Olympia. I think this was a huge win for ASU. It tells me what the players think of Erickson.
Losing to Cal was embarrassing. Check that. Losing to Cal the way ASU lost was embarrassing. Almost everyone losses at Cal so that’s not the embarrassing part. Very few players came to compete in that game. Making matters worse, Coach Erickson probably read the riot act to the players at halftime and there was very little effect.
Even with a loss to Washington State, I still would have supported Erickson for 2011. However, my argument would have lacked clarity. When a team with few wins for the last couple years gets blown out after a bye week, it’s acceptable to wonder if the coach still has the attention of the players. A loss to one of the worst football teams in college football history, on your home field, following an embarrassing loss the week before shows a major problem. That problem didn’t show.
It’s important to see this game in the context of what Washington State was appearing to build. Every loss this year seemed to be getting closer. Every game, the Cougs were in the game longer before it was out of reach. ASU destroyed Wazzu in every aspect of the game of football. For the first time this year against a D-1 opponent, ASU got pressure rushing only four. I don’t think coach Craig Bray trusts his secondary enough to rush five and six consistently. The whole key to ASU’s defense is getting pressure from the front four based on the rotation. My opinion is Bray wants to rotate D-linemen so much that an O-line will wear out. Every defense rotates linemen but I’ve never seen anyone do it as much as ASU.
Since ASU was getting pressure early in the game before the effects of fatigue take over, that’s player emotion. The players brought an intensity they haven’t all year. The O-line was man-handling Wazzu. Threet was excellent with his reads and poise. The receivers only had two bad drops and actually made some plays on other throws that were difficult.
If ASU would have lost, the screams for regime change would have been very loud. I really don’t know if Lisa Love could have ignored them. Obviously, her opinion is the only one that matters. Regime change would have led to the same situation. The new coach would have come in and won with Coach Erickson’s players and then the program would struggle through rebuilding and ASU fans would want that coach out in 2014.
The best chance for ASU success is with Dennis Erickson in place for 2011. The players have spoken.