It was a surreal moment as I made my way to the Sun Devil Stadium press box; I couldn’t recall if I had set foot in the building during the entire Dennis Erickson era.
Sun Devil fans can certainly relate.
Outside of a Holiday Bowl run in year one and the horrendous stumbles of the final season, the entire Erickson era had the feel of a dream sequence in the movie Inception. Did Vontaze Burfict actually happen or did I dream the whole thing up?
Well I’m back and — if you believe what you read on Twitter — so are the Devils, as evidenced by their 42-0 halftime lead over NAU.
It was complete ownership by ASU with the title in hand to prove it. Outgaining the Lumberjacks 365-92, the Sun Devils were like a 16-year-old who just got their first car; they did what they wanted, when they wanted. The Todd Graham era is off to a sterling start and will probably lead some to believe that, perhaps, this year will be better than projected.
After all, this is an NAU team that usually gives the opponent a game for at least a half. The two times the ‘Jacks played the Devils in Erickson’s tenure, the average score was 35-16. NAU always left with a paycheck and a little bit of respect. But not on Thursday night and I’m sure it felt good for the fans and maybe the players to hammer the team you’re supposed to hammer.
But it should end right there.
These games are nothing more than preseason games. In the past, under Erickson, ASU has won similar type games by scores of 45-3 (San Jose State), 50-3 (Idaho State), 54-9 (Portland State) and 48-14 (UC Davis). As my co-host Gambo pointed out, last year Vontaze Burfict had three sacks vs. UC Davis. Some indicator that turned out to be.
We all want to believe (hope) that Graham is the answer after the fog of Erickson. Every element of the game looked sharp for ASU under their new coach. But the restaurant critic doesn’t judge the meal on the bread that is served when you sit down. The real meal starts next week against Illinois. And then Missouri. And then everybody’s Pac-12 South sleeper Utah.
Then, and only then, will we know if the hazy dream is over.