Vontaze Burfict "tackles" Wisconsin's John Clay. Hopefully we don't see much of this on Saturday night.
We're less than 24 hours away from the start of Pac-10 football, and Cory Williams of SBNation's ASU blog, House Of Sparky was kind enough to answer a few questions on the Sun Devils. Below are our questions, and his answers.
1) Steven Threet transferred from Michigan and has had a pretty solid couple games for the Sun Devils, and what I saw of the Wisconsin game impressed me. Have you been surprised by his performance, and what does he bring to the table that last years QBs did not?
Surprised can mean a lot of things. I'm optimistic about Threet's ability to lead this Sun Devil team, which I couldn't say about Danny Sullivan last year. He has been baptized under fire over at Michigan, and while he transferred out of there due to a clash of styles, Threet has excelled under coach Dennis Erickson.
He brings a sense of legitimacy. Threet knows the pocket and can move around the blitz. He has quick feet and a good release, and puts the ball in the chest of his receivers. He is tall and knows what needs to be done to move the chains.
Threet has a dark side: he sometimes slightly overthrows the ball, but if that's your worst complaint, you're in good shape. I haven't been this confident in an ASU quarterback in years, and I'm including Rudy Carpenter in this discussion.
2) What skill position players have excited you the most this year? Who needs to have a big game for ASU to stay competitive?
I was really excited when Deantre Lewis got to campus, and he has not disappointed at all. He's so fast - just needs to work on his seasoning and he will be a true stud in the Pac-10. If he hadn't tripped up on the Arizona State 30-yard line last week, he would have scored a 99-yard touchdown on the Badgers.
I am also happy about the new wide receiving corps that filled the depth charts in 2010. Mike Willie, George Bell, Aaron Pflugrad: all have been positive contributors this season. Kerry Taylor has stepped up and been a good target for Threet.
All in all, there's a lot to be excited about in Tempe, and that's news to most ASU supporters.
3) ASU's offensive line has been an Achilles heel for the Sun Devils in recent years. How do you expect the line to stand up to Oregon's varied blitzing schemes?
Honestly, I don't. Our left tackle is a converted tight end. We're getting better, but we're not good enough to stand up to Oregon's speed and depth.
I do expect the offense to try new things, however. Threet won't have a lot of time to throw the ball, so you might see some misdirections and some tomfoolery.
As Boise State has proven time and time again, having a few tricks up your sleeve can pay huge dividends. People don't remember how you win: all that matters is that you do.
4) On defense, everyone knows about Vontaze Burfict. Who else should Duck fans keep their eye on when the Ducks have the ball?
I am a fan of Eddie Elder, a JUCO transfer who is very active in the secondary. He makes things happen, and has a good eye for coverage. Against the Oregon "PlayStation" offense, however, I am not sure if Elder will be the main prize.
The entire starting linebacker corps hails from Centennial High School in Norco, California. Brandon Magee, Shelly Lyons, and Vontaze Burfict have been playing together for years, and coach Erickson saw fit to keep it that way for a reason.
If they are able to mesh, they might come up with some key stops. This is just such a tough task, and Oregon is so much faster than Wisconsin could dream of being.
5) Burfict has a reputation for playing out of control. Will he and the rest of the line backing corps be able to play sound defense and not over pursue Oregon's misdirection and option plays?
That's the dream and the hope of ASU fans across the valley. Is it feasible? Yes. Burfict played smart in Wisconsin, after some ill-advised plays against Northern Arizona.
In my mind, the coaching staff had a quick word with the young man, and it went a little something like this: "If you make a boneheaded decision, you will not play." When such a big game is at stake, even Vontaze Burfict can be kept in line.
As for stopping Oregon, that's funny. The goal is containment. Holding Oregon to under 35 points is what I would consider a victory tomorrow night. ASU has a good offense and could muster up a battle if the defense can stymie the big play.
In the end, Oregon will leave Arizona with another victory, but the Sun Devils will finally show some self-respect and give the Ducks a fight. In the end, a good game is all we want - and ASU hasn't played UO tough in years.